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Our Champions

This is my ALS: A Love Story. It is about my beloved husband, Kevin, the founder and forever captain of Team GiveEmHeller.

When I met Kevin in 1997, I was immediately taken by his incredible good looks, his larger than life personality, and how loving and kind he was to others. Somehow I got lucky and he thought I was pretty cool too!  We had a whirlwind romance, and he moved from Boston to San Francisco to be with me. We quickly bought a house, and got married in our backyard in 1998. This is when our Love Story truly began. We had such a blessed life. 

When Kevin was diagnosed with ALS in June 2019, we were so shocked and horrified. Kevin was a very healthy 58 year old, an extremely gifted athlete, a West Point graduate. We had been happily married for 21 years, had two amazing kids and Kevin’s career was at a high point. He was coaching masters swimming, cycling, and competing in triathlons. Life was going along so smoothly.  This news brought us to our knees.

At first, we wanted to be private about ALS, go into hiding and just live with the disease quietly. But after much thought and prayer, Kevin decided to change his approach.  He began quoting a bible verse daily: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” 

It seemed very difficult to imagine rejoicing when facing this disease, but he did. He wanted to take on ALS boldly and with a brave and loving spirit.  He got active in the ALS community. He rode in the Napa ALS Ride for the Cure, setting a Ride record for funds raised.  He did 15 ALS Ice Bucket Challenges with our kids’ sports communities, helping raise awareness. He joined the Lou Gehrig Day committee and helped get Major League Baseball to adopt an annual Lou Gehrig Day. 

But most importantly, he showed his friends and family how to live well, even in the worst of circumstances.  Our family motto is GiveEmHeller, which means live big, with courage, and love others in the process.  Kevin taught us how to live this way.  He desired to leave a legacy that when we face trials, turn it over to the Lord.  And face them with courage and love. That is exactly how he spent his 18 months battling ALS. 

Kevin inspired us all. He is with us forever, and his legacy lives on. 

We continue living his GiveEmHeller spirit every day. 

-Lesley Heller


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