PDT Staff Writer
Chris Slater was an active man. He worked at MarkWest Hydrocarbon in South Shore. He is now unemployed, on short-term disability. His speech is slurred. He has no use of his hands, and can’t even button his shirt. His wife has been forced to quit her job to stay home with him and care for him.
That scenario is played out everywhere Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis aggressively attacks the body. Better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig Disease, it is debilitating and that debilitation sometimes comes quickly, as in the case of Chris Slater.
This Saturday people in the community will be holding a benefit for Chris Slater at South Shore Rotary Park from noon until 5 p.m.
“We’re trying to raise money for medical expenses,” Molly Ratliff, Slater’s daughter, said. “We’re going to have live bands. We’re going to have all kinds of vendors. We’ll have inflatables, a cornhole tournament, lots of kids games, like a tricycle race. We’re having a bean dinner and hot dogs, all kinds of baked goods.”
Ratliff said an account has been set up in the name of Slater’s Sluggers for donations to help defray costs at Home Federal Bank in South Shore.
“The first person who ever had it was a baseball player. His name was Lou Gehrig,” Ratliff said. “So the theme of ALS is baseball, so we decided on Slater’s Sluggers.”
Gehrig contracted the disease in 1939, ending his career as an outstanding hitter for the New York Yankees. That moment is captured in the speech Gehrig made on the field at Yankee Stadium, which began with, “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
ALS is a degenerative disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. A chronic disorder, it causes a loss of control of voluntary muscles. The nerves controlling speech, swallowing, and limb movements are often affected. Unfortunately, a cure has not yet been found for the disease.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT