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Anniversary of Gehrig’s famous speech
Ontario/Rochester, N.Y. - It was 75 years ago on Friday, when Lou Gehrig said goodbye to baseball, after being diagnosed with ALS. He died at just 37 years old.
It's a disease that nearly 5,600 people the U.S. are diagnosed with each year.
"She had had some symptoms probably about a year prior to her diagnosis," said Renee Scholz of Ontario, whose mother, Lucretia Lettau, was diagnosed with ALS at 62-years-old.
"It's very difficult for the person getting that diagnosis and the family members and the loved ones around that person," she explained.
Scholz watched her mother physically decline over three years.
According to ALS Association, the disease attacks nerve cells that eventually cause a person to lose voluntary muscle control and movement. Patients become paralyzed in the later stages of the disease. In most cases a person's mind remain sharp and alert.
Lettau passed away in 2008, but Scholz said her spirit never faltered.
"She said you know I love life, I'm not depressed I love life," said Scholz. "And she lived it to the fullest."
Pam Dunlap of Rochester knows says her husband, Jeff Dunlap, of 34-years also maintained a positive outlook on life after being diagnosed in 2005.
"His spirit was unbelievable," said Dunlap.
Before Dunlap's husband passed away in 2009 - they started a website to help other's with the disease.
It's now grown into Hearts for ALS NY, a not for profit that helps families with expenses not covered by insurance.
"Most of these you get Social Security, disability but you're on Medicare so the little things are what I wanted to help the families with," said Dunlap. The organization has helped 12 local families since 2012.
"I think he'd [Jeff] be proud of me, I think the kids are," she said. "I've met too many people during this travel that I've taken. And they're usually the nicest people that you meet and I just can't walk away from them."
Or the fight against a devastating disease that took her husband too soon.
People with ALS live on average two to five years after diagnosis.