Westport man’s campaign helped bring Lou Gehrig Day to MLB

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Major League Baseball celebrated its second annual Lou Gehrig Day on Thursday, and a Westport man attended the Yankees-Angels game as a special guest after organizing the effort to observe the day.

Chuck Haberstroh says he couldn’t believe Major League Baseball wasn’t already observing a Lou Gehrig day, before he started his campaign a few years ago.

“It slowly takes away your ability to walk, your ability to move your hands, your ability to talk, eat, and eventually breathe,” Haberstroh said.

His mother, Patty, was diagnosed with ALS in late 2017.

“The average is three to five years for people to survive with this disease. My mother is almost in her fifth year,” he said.

Inspired by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Haberstroh and his brothers Tom and Steve went viral with the Hot Pepper Challenge in 2018.

“It started this awareness movement that can lead to funding that can lead to research, which will eventually lead to treatments and cures for this disease,” Haberstroh said.

His next act: Create the Lou Gehrig Day ad hoc committee and a grassroots effort to have the day observed throughout baseball.

“We started at the baseline, got these teams involved, all 30 teams, and then we launched into Major League Baseball, and they said yes,” Haberstroh said.

MLB held the first Lou Gehrig Day last year with crowds limited by COVID. This year, Haberstroh brought a group of 100 Westport residents and people affected by the disease to Yankee Stadium. He hopes the awareness will lead to more research into a disease that has seen very little progress since the days of Lou Gehrig.

“Eighty years ago Lou Gehrig was diagnosed. It’s the same diagnosis my mother received in 2017 that he received in 1939,” he said.

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