For as long as I can remember MDA has been a part of our family! As a small child, I can remember my Dad supporting MDA on Labor Day weekend, by Filling the Boot. Local Fire Departments collect spare change and donations at intersections, as cars pass by firefighters hold out a fire boot to collect your donation and hand you an MDA sticker.
Then in 2004, MDA really hit home when my Uncle, Tom Gassner, was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. This month our family and friends will gather to celebrate my Uncle Tom, in St. Louis. He wants to gather those he loves, share great stories, and remind everyone that he isn't going down without a fight!
St. Louis (KSDK) - For one die-hard Cardinals fan, Thursday's game represented the first time in five years he's been able to watch a game in the stadium.
Tom Gassner is paralyzed from ALS, but his daughter and the Cardinals moved mountains to get him to the game.
Gassner's daughter just wanted to find out how to buy tickets for her dad. She e-mailed Newschannel 5, and we passed it to the Cardinals who hit a home run for this fan.
From his choice seat behind home plate, the first thing Tom Gassner noticed was, "how big the production is, look at all these people out here."
The Cardinals organization put on a production to welcome Tom. The lifelong Redbirds fan arrived at Busch to VIP parking, free tickets and a personalized jersey.
He even had a chance encounter with the voice of the Cardinals, Mike Shannon.
Gassner was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gherig's disease, in 2004.
In 2006, he was still able to go to the stadium to attend a World Series game.
But that was the last time, the incurable disease since robbed him of the use of his arms and legs.
"We heard his story and felt like, you know, it would really be special to have him here and hopefully to help us celebrate our 11th world championship," said Cardinals Spokesman Ron Waterman.
The news spread to friends and family, even his home care worker couldn't contain her excitement.
"She ran in the door this morning, she was screaming and yelling and shaking her arms that I'm going to the World Series," said Gassner. "It's nice. It's a lovely gift and I'm very grateful for that."
The number on Gassner's personalized jersey has the number 9, representing the number of grandchildren he has.
This year MDA has made changes to the Labor Day weekend televised donation drive. In place of the telethon, is a television special "MDA Show of Strength," airing Sunday 9/2 at 8/7c. Will you please consider donating to MDA, this Labor Day weekend? Support MDA through a donation, and you will fund your local community through support services, research, repairing medical equipment, expert health care at a MDA/ALS clinic, and family support groups. You can also donate through your local fire department as they "Fill the Boot!"