Goldy supports ALS patient to mark Gehrig Award night

June 12th, 2024

ST. LOUIS -- Long before he reached the big leagues and put himself in a position to impact the lives of others with his actions as a role model, closely watched, listened and learned everything done by his own role models.

A native of The Woodlands in suburban Houston, Goldschmidt watched intently as future Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell starred on the field for the Astros while helping others in the community during their downtime. Goldschmidt also talked with his parents about players he wanted to model himself after -- both on and off the baseball diamond.

“I think it started when I was a kid, watching all my role models growing up, and it was always something that my parents talked about -- good and bad role models out there, people that they wanted us to be like and not be like,” Goldschmidt said.

“As far as doing stuff to help others, when I got to the big leagues, we had a lot of veterans on my team in Arizona that were involved in different things with their time and money. They just kind of set the example, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps and do everything I could to help.”

Goldschmidt’s help in the community -- exemplified by his presentation of a Cardinals-themed wheelchair to ALS patient and long-time Cardinals season-ticket holder John Ceriotti before Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Pirates at Busch Stadium -- earned him the 2023 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. Goldschmidt received the award prior to Tuesday's game.

Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity, which Gehrig was a member of while at Columbia University, presents the award annually to the MLB player who best exemplifies the giving character of Gehrig, who died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) -- a fatal type of motor neuron disease that causes progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain.

“It’s not just the [wheelchair], but this is about support for the [Ceriotti] family because ALS is a progressive disease, and every day it can get more difficult to move, live and do the basic things that we take for granted,” Phi Delta Theta General Council President J. David Almacy said. “For us, this is extra special, because John was also a member at Phi Delta Theta at Drake University. … It’s special for us to honor one of our own and help the family as he battles every day.”

Goldschmidt is the seventh member of the Cardinals to win the Gehrig Award, joining Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith, along with Ken Boyer, Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols. The Lou Gehrig Memorial Award plaque is on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The Cardinals, who celebrated Lou Gehrig Day on Tuesday because they were in Philadelphia on June 2, also honored the ALS Association and the muscular dystrophy association (MDA) for the work they have done in the community through the years.

The Live Like Lou Foundation works in partnership with Phi Delta Theta to reward three families in the cities where players are finalists for the Gehrig Award with wheelchairs. Also, the Live Like Lou Foundation awards scholarships to financial dependents of those living with ALS patients or those who have had a family member pass away after battling ALS. The Live Like Lou Foundation, which has donated more than $500,000 in scholarships since 2018, will award wheelchairs or scholarships in 10 MLB ballparks this season, executive director Wendy Faust said on Tuesday.

Much to his surprise, Cerotti looked to his left and was shocked that Goldschmidt, Phi Delta Theta, Permobil and Nu Motion were presenting him with a Cardinals-themed motorized wheelchair. Cerotti, whose sister, Bernadette, died from ALS in 2015, was diagnosed with ALS in 2020. He said the gift of the new motorized wheelchair will help him and his wife, Connie, immensely.

“This means so much to us,” said Cerotti, who has been taking part in groundbreaking clinical trial medications with doctors from Washington University.