N.J. couple running to raise awareness of Lou Gehrig'sBy Terry Anderson
firstname.lastname@example.org May 14, 2006
The Cellcom Green Bay Marathon isn't just about numbers and dollars.
A week from today, there will be as many stories as competitors running and walking through the streets of Green Bay, Ashwaubenon, Allouez and De Pere.
Among the most compelling stories at the marathon will be the Engels, Algers and Geniesse contingent of family and friends. They are coming from Wisconsin, New Jersey, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Paris, France, to compete, but more than compete, raise awareness of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis - better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
ALS destroys motor neurons, resulting in muscle weakness and difficulty in swallowing and speaking. All cognitive functions remain healthy even as the victim withers, ultimately to die from respiratory failure. The life expectancy is three to five years.
It has walloped the lives of Sue and Frank Engels - an East Brunswick, N.J., couple who met at St. Norbert College in De Pere and will run in the marathon to honor ALS victims and raise awareness of this mysterious and deadly disease.
Eighteen years ago, ALS claimed the life of Sue's mother, Marie Geniesse Alger, a Green Bay native. Today, it is evaporating the life of Frank's younger brother, Steve, who lives in southern Indiana.
"We all know who Lou Gehrig was. He was the Ironman who didn't miss a game for 14 years until he pulled himself from the lineup. Steve is a regular guy and all of the sudden can't do regular things," said Frank Engels. "You go through this once - with Sue's mom - and it's horrifying. But you think it's behind you. To have it come back, I guess, I think that it's a sign that I have to do something."
The "do" something was to run his first marathon - in the community where the couple first met and still has family - and recruit friends and family to the cause.
So far, nearly 50 people within their extended family have agreed to walk and run in events ranging from the 5K, half marathon and marathon.
One who can only be here in spirit is Steve Engels. He is too ill to make the journey.
"When I told Steve that I wanted to this, I asked his permission, and he said it's OK," Frank Engels said. "When I told him how hard it will be to run a marathon, and said, 'I'm not sure I can do this,' he just said, 'you better.'"
For further information, contact:
Sue and Frank Engels
61 Covington Ct.
East Brunswick, NJ 08816