When you reach your fifties you’re asked if you remember this guy or that girl. Oftentimes it’s a high school friend, sometimes it’s a ballplayer. Yesterday, all of MLB remembered Lou Gehrig. The man who was forced to retire in 1939 after discovering he had been diagnosed with ALS, the man whose name most find synonymous with the dreaded disease.

Yet, despite his battle, Gehrig still considered himself the “luckiest man on the face of the earth.” 

Where the Heart is

Here in New England when ALS is talked about, most think of Boston College legend Pete Frates’ who passed away after a long battle with the disease in 2019. His mother Nancy narrated a video tribute to Gehrig that played across MLB parks yesterday.

I and many others remember another man struck down and taken too soon by this illness that brings together and rips apart so many families – John Martin. 

Only at Café Martin

John Martin was an author and videographer for NESN who covered the Red Sox and Bruins for two decades here in Boston, a man who, like Gehrig, touched the lives of people he never met. I was one of those people.

Introduced to his legend as the husband, father, and fierce friend who fought this illness for two years by my good friend Bryan Brennan who worked with Martin at NESN for many years.

Never forgotten

I was captivated by the way Bryan and the people in John Martin’s life spoke of him, touched by the outpouring of love and emotion his life was being celebrated with. So much so that I selfishly cried on the day he passed. To this day when anyone mentions ALS, I think of him.

Sadly we all have a Gehrig or a John Martin in our lives. I hope one day we won’t have to add names to that list. But I know there are so many of you who are dealing every day with the emotions, not only I but our country was slapped with yesterday on a daily basis: A never-ending cycle of – Joy at another day with your love – Worry at what tomorrow will bring and shared pain with so many others who are touched by ALS. Yesterday was for Gehrig, but the words today and tomorrow are about you.  

For more information on ALS research, visit the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI).

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