Eagles hold field goal event for charity
The Philadelphia Eagles partnered with Santander Bank on Monday afternoon for a field goal challenge among participating members of the media.
Nearly 20 entrants, including myself, participated in the name of bragging rights, but more importantly, for charity.
Going into the competition, I didn't know which charity I would donate to until I saw a Sports Center feature on Peter Frates, the former Boston College baseball player who is battling ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and who started the viral social media phenomenon, which is the ice bucket challenge.
The story of Peter Frates is heart breaking and shows everyone how terrible and malicious a disease like ALS is. It also makes you want to do something to combat the debilitating killer, which hasn't had much traction in the form of a cure since legendary New York Yankee, Lou Gehrig, was diagnosed with ALS in 1939.
To be honest, I wasn't a fan of the ice bucket challenge, based purely on the whole novelty of the act. Dumping a bucket of ice on yourself can raise awareness for the disease, but it doesn't actually teach people anything about ALS or even where or how to donate.
Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez has seen his share of controversy during the course of his career and his ice bucket challenge has thrown Sanchez into the limelight again, as fans are clamoring for him to do it over because he kept his helmet on.
But Sanchez isn't fazed by the backlash, as he talked about his ice bucket challenge and the awareness the phenomenon has gained for ALS.
"I really didn't know much about the disease before doing the challenge, but I made sure I did my research, just so that I wasn't dumping a bucket of ice on my head without knowing anything about the disease," said Sanchez after Monday's practice at the NovaCare complex in Philadelphia. "I've been getting a lot of heat for doing it with my helmet on, but I just did it because my friend challenged me and I thought it would be funny. I've heard people want me to do it again, but we're doing it as a whole team this week, so hopefully that'll make people happy.
"I think the most important thing is to donate. It's one thing to dump a bucket of ice over your head, it's another to actually donate and help find a cure for the disease."
Monday's field goal competition provided me with the opportunity to help donate to the cause, as my goal of winning the $2,500 check toward charity was the main objective.
And that objective fell short, literally, as NJ.com reporter Eliot Shorr-Parks nudged a 35-yard field goal in the final round of kicks, while my kick fell just short.
I settled for second-place and took home a $500 check to go along with two tickets to an Eagles game, which will all be awarded to an ALS charity.
So, as nice as it is to take part in the social media ice bucket challenge, there is a reality to ALS that doesn't become apparent or real unless you know someone dealing with the disease, or, as in my case, you actually take time to watch the Peter Frates special on Sports Center.
Raising awareness for the cause is a vital element in finding a cure and Liberty wrestling coach Jody Karam knows fully of the devastating effect that ALS can have on a family.
John Fenstermacher, who was part of Karam's original wrestling staff 21 years ago, as well as a co-founder with Don Evans in the Bethlehem Holiday Wrestling Classic, passed away on December 30, 2006 after battling ALS.
Karam remembers clearly the first time his close friend demonstrated symptoms of the disease and the fight he had to endure.
"John and I lifted weights together on a regular basis," Karam said. "Several years into our coaching experience, during one of our lifting workouts, we were doing bicep curls, and John looked up at me and said his right arm just felt strange, like an unfamiliar weakness. As the weeks went by, that same weak feeling grew and eventually John started to get noticeable problems with his speech.
"I recall John fighting this disease with tooth and nail with a valiant effort. I recall one instance at the Wilson Invitational tournament, the team weighed in and we went to eat afterward at a restaurant. John openede the door, and he fell out of the van.
"He couldn't catch himself. This particular moment goes through my mind today still and left an impact on me - I will never forget the pain I felt for John. Here was a man who wanted to work with kids and help them, when he couldn't even physically help himself any longer."
Karam still remembers Fenstermacher today when things get tough, whether it's in life or on the mat, thinking," what would John do?".
If there was one tweak that Karam would do with the current ice bucket challenge, he would prefer that people sponsor an individual to dump the bucket of ice over them to ultimately raise more money for the cause.
Nonetheless, the story of Peter Frates and John Fenstermacher provide evidence that we all can do something to help eradicate social causes.
I tried to do my best on Monday and I hope anyone that reads this feels compelled to do the same.