Lou Gehrig’s legacy lives on through ALS college scholarships

How the late MLB player keeps giving and inspiring, decades after his death

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by Juliet Taylor |

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I’ve written before about how my late husband, Jeff, drew inspiration from Lou Gehrig, even before his ALS diagnosis in 2018. Today, I’m sharing how I now do the same through Live Like Lou, the ALS organization that bears Gehrig’s name.

When I met Jeff, I was charmed to learn about a neighborhood yard beautification award he’d won for tending the landscape and planting flowers at his home. His sloping front yard was filled with rose bushes and bloomed riotously each spring, summer, and fall.

As I got to know him better, I discovered that nurturing — of people, animals, and the natural world around him — brought Jeff joy and meaning. While his physical strength diminished with his illness, his happiness from outdoor work remained. Even after he could no longer walk, he’d drive our riding lawn mower, operating the controls with his still-strong arms. I’d watch from the living room windows, balancing — as always with ALS — his need for normalcy and dignity with his safety.

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How I learn to live from those we’ve lost to ALS

Giving up his landscaping projects was painful for Jeff. ALS took so many things in relatively rapid succession that we had to adapt with little time to reflect. That’s why a local neighbor’s email to me was a welcome gift in the early spring of 2020. He was a university student and member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and asked if he could come to our home with some fraternity brothers and do our sorely neglected yardwork.

It was through this outreach that I discovered, and came to love, Live Like Lou, a not-for-profit organization created and driven by Phi Delta Theta, of which Gehrig was a member. In addition to furthering research and building awareness of ALS, Live Like Lou helps ALS families at home through the volunteer efforts of fraternity members. It also provides respite and home improvement grants as well as financial assistance for dependents of those with ALS to pursue higher education through a competitive scholarship program.

Honoring and helping ALS families

In the past year, I’ve had the joy of getting to know Wendy Faust, the executive director of Live Like Lou. We bonded at last year’s Lou Gehrig Day MLB game in Atlanta, where the Braves hosted an engaging and moving LG4ALSDay program, a highlight of which was the on-field recognition of Live Like Lou award and scholarship recipients.

I’ve chosen to highlight Live Like Lou in today’s column as its Iron Horse Scholarship program is in its final days of accepting applications, closing on Wednesday, Feb. 21. It’s not too late to submit an application for this year, or better yet, begin preparing for 2025.

This competitive scholarship awards ALS dependents with money for post-secondary education to the tune of $2,130 a semester, in honor of Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games played. One-time Onward Awards, which come in varying amounts, are granted to runners-up of the Iron Horse award.

As many reading this column will know, ALS can take a devastating financial toll on a family. The Iron Horse Scholarship and Onward Awards help to cushion that blow.

Through email, Faust shared with me that “the exceptional growth in interest for Live Like Lou’s Iron Horse Scholarships is both exciting and heartbreaking. I know our committee and board wish we could fund scholarships for each individual who has been affected by ALS and wants to pursue college. We’ve gone from 12 applicants in 2021 to 83 in 2023, and the need is greater than ever as the brutal reality of this disease leaves many ALS families in financial need for years — if not generations — to come.

“We are honored that word has gotten out about these scholarships and that we can honor the mighty families in the Live Like Lou community with funds to ensure their loved ones can achieve their higher education dreams,” she added.

Faust reports that the Iron Horse Scholarship funding has been the reason some students are able to finish college, stay close to home to help with caregiving, or spend more time with their loved one with ALS. Since 2022, Live Like Lou has invited scholarship recipients and their families to join them at MLB games where the organization hosts events for Lou Gehrig Day and ALS awareness activity.

It’s not too late to apply for 2024. Faust’s advice to applicants is to keep in mind that their thoughtful responses to the application questions, essays, and letters of recommendation are all that our selection committee (of which I’m a member) has to go on when reviewing candidates. She recommends that applicants take time to tell the story of how ALS has affected them and their family, and how these funds will make a difference in their educational pursuits.

Faust concludes that Live Like Lou is grateful for the donors that make programs like this possible. To learn more about its scholarships and other programs, please visit the organization’s website.

Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


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Wendy Faust

Thank you, Juliet, for this beautiful piece about Live Like Lou's Iron Horse Scholarships! We are so grateful to you for ALL you do in the ALS community.

Martha Delgado avatar

Martha Delgado

Thank you very much for sharing your story, it has helped me a lot to understand a little more about the history and future of ALS patients and their families. I am from Canada and my husband has been diagnosed with ALS, after seeing 8 doctors for 2 years. Now he and I begin this new and difficult stage of our lives together.


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