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Going to bat for man stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rod Scholten likes to joke that his son's such a baseball fan that it's only fitting that he'd be diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.

But the Le Mars man knows his son's illness is no laughing matter.

Scholten's son Steve (LCHS graduate, class of 1978) was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral disease (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease) in May 2006.

ALS is a progressive disease that destroys the nerve cells in the central nervous system that control voluntary muscle movement.

Scholten insists his son is in good spirits and is taking things one day at a time.

"Steve knows he has a lot of people out there pulling for him," Scholten says, "and they know he'll keep on swinging."

In fact, Scholten says family members recently chipped in to finance a trip to Chicago's legendary Wrigley Field.

"Steve's cousins wanted him to see the Chicago Cubs play," Scholten explains.

While in Chi-town, Scholten's son also had the chance to take part in a very unusual audition.

"Steve sang 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame,'" his dad laughs. "He didn't make the cut for the top fifty singers but it didn't matter. He gave it his best shot."

"More importantly, Steve got the chance to see the Cubs play," Scholten smiles. "What can be better than that?"

Alton Presbyterian Church is inviting the public to a special benefit supper for Steve Scholten and his family from 5 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 15, at the Alton Roadside Park.

"There'll be games, fun, and a supper of hot dogs, taverns, chips, and cold drinks," Scholten describes. "It'll be a great event."

The proceeds of the fundraiser will be going towards alternative medicine that Steve will need to fight his disease.

"We'll also be selling special 'Iron Spirit' wristbands," Scholten adds.

The "Iron Spirit" wristbands were the brainchild of Baltimore Oriole great Cal Ripkin, Jr.

"Back in the summer of 1995, Ripkin was on the verge of breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games-played record when he decided to do something to honor the memory of Gehrig," Scholten mentions. "Ripkin created these bands to raise funds to help combat the disease that claimed the life of (the New York Yankee's) 'Iron Horse.'"

The proceeds of the sale of "Iron Spirit" wristbands will go to the Robert Packard Center at John Hopkins University Hospital for ALS Research.

"It was one slugger helping out another," Scholten maintains.

Which is the sentiment his son is taking with his disease.

"People need to be willing to step up to the plate," Scholten offers, "and together, we'll be able to hit ALS out of the park."

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