Jul 8, 2024

Phi Delta Theta Celebrates Lou Gehrig Day at Seven MLB Ballparks in June

Philanthropy/Service/ALS The Scroll News
Phi Delta Theta Celebrates Lou Gehrig Day at Seven MLB Ballparks in June

Did you find yourself in the stands at a baseball game this June and notice a special presentation before the game? You might have seen a player award ceremony or a heartwarming moment where someone received a new power wheelchair or college scholarship. If you’re wondering what a fraternity has to do with Major League Baseball or why the league dedicates a day to ALS awareness, the answer is simple: Lou Gehrig.

Lou Gehrig, a proud member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, was a legendary first baseman for the New York Yankees. Known as The Iron Horse for his incredible streak of 2,130 consecutive games played, Gehrig’s career was tragically cut short when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 1939. This devastating disease, now commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, prevents nerve cells from interacting with the body’s muscles. His diagnosis brought attention to ALS, and since then, his legacy has continued to inspire and raise awareness.

Lou Gehrig Memorial Award

Since 1955, Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity has recognized a Major League Baseball Player who best exemplifies the spirit and character of Brother Lou Gehrig, both on and off the field. Lou Gehrig was a distinguished member of Phi Delta Theta and a man of integrity. The Lou Gehrig Memorial Award was created to acknowledge an individual player’s outstanding commitment to both his community and philanthropy. Today, the award, and the player recognitions associated with it, also creates life-changing impact to families facing ALS.

Lou Gehrig Day

In 2021, Major League Baseball dedicated June 2, the anniversary of his death, as Lou Gehrig Day to be celebrated annually to honor Lou Gehrig’s legacy and to bring awareness to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Phi Delta Theta, through its Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, partners with several Major League Baseball teams each summer to present the award, highlight its finalists and nominees, and make impact in the ALS community.

Atlanta Braves – June 2, 2024

Phi Delta Theta kicked off Lou Gehrig Day at Truist Park, where Matt Olson of the Braves was honored as a Lou Gehrig Memorial Award finalist. The Live Like Lou Foundation also presented Lou Gehrig Memorial Award Scholarships to twin sisters Madelyne and McKenna Graf, whose father, Eric, passed away from ALS in April. The scholarship dollars were matched by the Atlanta Braves Foundation, Matt Olson, and Braves pitcher Chris Sale, who lost his grandmother to ALS.

San Francisco Giants – June 2, 2024

On the same day, Phi Delta Theta honored Mike Yastrzemski of the Giants as a Lou Gehrig Memorial Award finalist. On the field before the game, the Live Like Lou Foundation recognized Elizabeth Duncan, one of their Iron Horse scholarship recipients, whose dad, Jonathan, was diagnosed with ALS in 2021 and passed away later that same year.

Kansas City Royals – June 2, 2024

Kansas City Royals legend and past Lou Gehrig Memorial Award recipient, George Brett, joined Phi Delta Theta, the Live Like Lou Foundation, and the Permobil Foundation to surprise ALS Warrior Bill Fitzpatrick, a proud Kansas City native and avid Royals fan, with a Royals-branded power wheelchair. Surrounded by brothers, friends, and supporters in the group outing space during the game, Missouri Alpha (Missouri) Phi Gary Glisson was honored as a second wheelchair recipient and Kansas Gamma (Kansas State) Phi Jeff Lyster was recognized for completing his tremendous 444 mile charity run across the state of Kansas.

Pittsburgh Pirates – June 4, 2024

On June 4, Phi Delta Theta joined the Live Like Lou Foundation at PNC Park to present Ali Khawaja with Live Like Lou’s Onward Award on the field before the game. Ali’s father, Tom, has been living with ALS since 2018. In addition, Phi Delta Theta and Live Like Lou were joined by the Parton family. Sarah Parton has been living with ALS since 2022, and her granddaughter, Sasha, announced “play ball” during the pre-game festivities.

Cincinnati Reds – June 9, 2024

On June 9, Phi Delta Theta General Headquarters staff gathered at Great American Ball Park to show their support. Phi Delta Theta joined Reds’ pitcher, Hunter Greene, on the field, to recognize him as a finalist for the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. In addition, the Live Like Lou Foundation presented a Lou Gehrig Memorial Scholarship to Chloe Telgkamp, whose sister, Samantha, is living with ALS.

St. Louis Cardinals – June 11, 2024

At Busch Stadium, Phi Delta Theta honored Paul Goldschmidt of the Cardinals as this year’s Lou Gehrig Memorial Award winner. Phi Delt and President of Baseball Operations for the Cardinals John Mozeliak joined the group to help celebrate Goldschmidt. Iowa Delta (Drake) Phi, and lifelong Cardinals fan, John Ceriotti, who is living with ALS, was surprised with a Cardinals-branded wheelchair from the Permboil Foundation and the Live Like Lou Foundation.

Minnesota Twins – June 11, 2024

That same evening, Phi Delta Theta celebrated Twins shortstop Carlos Correa as a finalist for the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. On the field, Phi Delta Theta was joined by the Live Like Lou Foundation and the Permobil Foundation to do something special for a local ALS family. Rose Aderman, of Brooklyn Park, is currently living with ALS and is a passionate supporter of the Minnesota Twins. Rose’s sons, Rob and Ryan, represented her on the field as her new wheelchair was revealed.

We Do it for Lou

Phi Delta Theta would like to thank those who came to this year’s Lou Gehrig Day events. Your support is making a difference in the world of ALS. These heartfelt moments and celebrations across various ballparks highlight the enduring impact of Lou Gehrig’s legacy and the collective efforts to combat ALS.

Phi Delta Theta is planning additional events later this season with the Cleveland Guardians and Colorado Rockies. We hope to see you at a ballpark in the future!

In the meantime, we encourage members of Phi Delta Theta to help us leave ALS better than we found it. The Live Like Lou Foundation is always searching for Phi Delts to serve ALS families in their communities through its Connect and Serve program. See the list of ALS families for whom we are seeking volunteers. Are you interested in using your athletic abilities and goals to support the ALS cause? Become an Iron Phi to make a lasting impact on both ALS and Phi Delta Theta.

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