The Extreme Financial Burden of the ALS Journey Will Be a Little Lighter for These Families, Honoring The Luckiest Man
The LiveLikeLou Foundation has awarded its first four Iron Horse Scholarships to dependents of ALS families since the national charity kicked off last year. The Iron Horse Scholarship Committee, led by LiveLikeLou Treasurer and Phi Delt Greyson Geiler, Nebraska ’93, reviewed applications from across the country and began the selection process over the summer.
“Our committee is made up of Phi Delts and a few others whose lives have been greatly impacted by ALS,” Greyson said. “Sons of dads who had ALS, wives of husbands, and friends. We all know how this disease can devastate a family. It feels good to help them with this scholarship.”
“The Iron Horse Scholarship can change the lives of the people who receive these funds,” explained Suzanne Alexander, Director of LiveLikeLou Foundation. “After a disease like ALS hits your family, there usually isn’t money left for college.”
Each scholarship will provide up to $2,130 and is renewable for up to eight semesters. The Foundation is hoping grow the program and add even more scholarship awardees in the future.
“Our board chose 2,130 to harken Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games-played record,” said Phi Delta Theta President and LiveLikeLou Trustee Dr. Chris W. Brussalis. “We want all recipients to understand the legacy of the Iron Horse Lou Gehrig was strength, courage, and gratitude.”
“We think Brother Gehrig would like this program very much,” said Greyson.
Congratulations to the awardees of the inaugural Iron Horse Scholarship!
Brett Hannon is a sophomore at Ohio University, pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. His mom has lived with ALS since 2013. Brett grew up trying to help his mom Angela maintain her independence and do the physical activities she always enjoyed, despite her disease. For example, Brett’s mom once told him she wished she could ride a bicycle again, but the price for a disability bike at the time was $10,000. So, young Brett took apart an old wheelchair and bicycle and invented one!
Brett explained that his mom was “joyful” to ride a bike again. “I want to create equipment that can benefit the lives of people with disabilities.” Brett is the vice president and treasurer of his chapter of Phi Gamma Delta, and in addition to his academic pursuits Brett raises awareness and money for ALS.
Patton Ford is a freshman at the Pellissippi State Bridge Program of the University of Tennessee, pursuing a business degree. His father Keith received an ALS diagnosis in 2016 when Patton was a freshman in high school and passed away in 2018. Together they shared a love of sports, hunting, fishing, and skiing. Patton broke one of his high school’s records in track and lettered in three varsity sports all while assisting with his dad’s care. Patton also took on household tasks that his father would typically have handled if not for ALS, such as mowing the yard, hauling the trash, cleaning a flooded basement, repairing plumbing issues, and painting their home’s porch.
Patton shared, “My dad’s disease indirectly taught me how to grow up. While in many ways I’ve struggled with this lesson, his illness taught me to value family, to strive towards constant self-improvement, and to appreciate life.”
Abigail Cutlip is a freshman at Bob Jones University in South Carolina, studying graphic design. Abigail’s grandmother Burline has been living with ALS since 2009, and she and her family have been the caregivers for her ever since. In addition to caregiving, Abigail is a very serious student and even completed a first year of college credit during her senior year of high school. Abigail’s love of art was inspired by her grandmother, herself an accomplished artist. One of Abigail’s award-winning paintings hangs in US Congressman George Holding’s office as first runner-up in the National Congressional Art Competition.
“As I follow in my grandma’s artistic footprints, I would love to continue her passion and pursue a career in graphic design. I may create designs to help with fundraising and awareness of ALS one day.”
Zachary Siple is a freshman at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and is pursuing a degree in psychology. His father Duane was diagnosed with ALS when Zach was just three years old and passed away in 2016. Zach was an honor roll student in high school and continued to participate in sports and youth summer camps despite the disease which affected his family.
Zach explained that his brother and he grew up very confused and scared by their dad’s disease, and “I don’t want any kid to ever have to feel like that.”
“My future hopes are to be a middle school/high school guidance counselor. Since I’ve been through so much in my short life and survived it, I could help other kids/young adults also,” he wrote.