FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (April 21, 2006)
by Peter A. Geniesse, Neenah WI
GREEN BAY, WI -- Among the thousands who are expected to participate and cheer-on the runners during The Cellcom Green Bay Marathon on May 21 will be a modest delegation determined to make a difference in a long-standing battle against a deadly disease.
They’ll be coming from New Jersey, from Texas, from Ohio and Indiana and Illinois, and from throughout Wisconsin to raise awareness -- and funds -- in their effort to find a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It’s better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, named after the New York Yankee ironman who didn’t miss a game for 14 years until his bat was stilled by the onslaught of the neuromuscular disorder. Gehrig died in 1941.
Theirs is a personal fight. Sue Engels lost her mother to ALS in 1988. Marie Geniesse Alger, born and raised in Green Bay, was 58 when she died in Aurora, Ill. Engels is now facing the prospect of losing her brother-in-law to the same disease.
She and her husband Frank, who met 30 years ago while attending St. Norbert College in DePere, Wis., are determined not to let another generation go by without some progress in discovering both the cause and the cure for ALS.
"Nothing has changed since my mom died 18 years ago," she said. "Nothing has changed in the 65 years since Lou Gehrig died."
Frank’s brother Steve, 50, a father of four who lives in southern Indiana, was diagnosed with ALS in 2005. There now are about 30,000 ALS patients in the United States. Their life expectancy is but three to five years after diagnosis. The disease destroys motor neurons, resulting in muscle weakness and difficulty in speaking and swallowing. Intellectual abilities are retained. The loss of respiratory function is ultimately the cause of death.
Sue and Frank, who now live in New Jersey, have created a web site (www.defeating ALS.com) to foster greater awareness of the disease. They also have put out a brochure and have set up several fund-raising sites for ALS associations in memory of Marie Geniesse Alger and in honor of Steve J. Engels.
Frank also intends to put his legs on the line on May 21 in Green Bay. At age 52, he’s in training to run his first marathon. He’s determined to complete the 26 miles and cross the finish line at Lambeau Field. He wants to send a personal message to his mother-in-law and to his brother, and also to medical researchers that ALS can indeed be defeated.
For further information, contact:
Sue and Frank Engels
61 Covington Ct.
East Brunswick, NJ 08816