We’ve all been bombarded on social media with videos of friends, family and celebrities participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It’s easy to grow tired of seeing people dump ice and water on their heads ad nauseum and forget about all the good this viral campaign has done to create and awareness and generate unprecedented donations for such a horrific disease.
The fact that various ALS charities have received upwards of $22 million dollars in just short of a month is a powerful reminder of what we as a society are capable of, even if it means dealing with what can become an egocentric social media blitz.
Through all this awareness, there are faces beginning to emerge to shed light on this debilitating disease and help others understand its nature. Former Tennessee Titans linebacker Tim Shaw, who was in the NFL as recently as a year ago, announced via the team’s website that he has been diagnosed with ALS at age 30. His statement also served as his own personal Ice Bucket Challenge.
Shaw was drafted in 2007 by the Carolina Panthers and also had stints with the Bears and Jaguars before finishing his career in Tennessee. In his personal video, Shaw starts out by saying, “A year ago I was playing NFL football. I’ve recently been diagnosed with ALS, I’m here today to stand up and fight with all of you against this disease.”
There is some speculation that taking as many hits as NFL players do in the course of their career has a direct correlation to the disease. According to the American Academy of Neurology, a player’s risk of death from ALS or Alzheimer’s disease is almost four times that of the general public.
Two former NFL athletes, Steve Gleason, previously with the Saints and O.J. Brigance of the Ravens have both been publicly fighting the disease and working hard to increase funding before this viral campaign was launched.
Let’s hope the recent diagnosis of Tim Shaw will create even more awareness within the NFL community and help promote not only finding a cure, but the possibility of researching the necessary safety measures to someday eliminate the risks altogether.