This month I am honored to write you this email on behalf of the Augie’s Quest Leadership Council. I am a husband, a veteran, a father of three small boys, and in April of 2014 I was diagnosed with ALS. I was only 30 years old.
I mentioned in my introduction that I am a veteran because it is extremely relevant in the battle against ALS. Numerous studies have indicated that military veterans are at least two times more likely to develop ALS, than their civilian counterparts. While we still don’t understand the reason for the higher prevalence among service members and veterans, the cost and toll ALS takes — especially among this community — is devastating. For example,
- Since 2001, more veterans have been casualties of ALS, diagnosed with the disease, than overall casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
- The cost in ALS care to the U.S. taxpayers reaches nearly $450 million annually. The cost to the children, spouses and friends of those affected by ALS cannot be quantified in dollars and cents.
A couple of years ago when I was still mobile, I took my oldest son JP for a walk on a crisp Fall morning. He had just turned four and he was running circles around me. Halfway through the walk he picked a white dandelion and blew on it. When I asked him what he wished for, his reply left me speechless, “Daddy, I wished that you would play football with me on my 18th birthday.”
As we approach Father’s Day, I am proud to be fighting alongside another father like Augie Nieto to help make my boys’ wishes come true.
Isn’t that what we try to do as fathers? Augie’s Quest is the key to making this wish a reality.
We have an obligation to do everything we can to defeat ALS because it is an unmanageable burden on our military, our veterans and our military families, but more importantly for the human cost to those who love us.
I am so grateful to all of you who feel the weight of this obligation and selflessly donate your time and money to move us closer to victory. God bless all of you and I hope you have a great Father’s Day.