Lou Gehrig Day


What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord. When these cells die, voluntary muscle control and movement dies with them. Patients in the later stages of the disease are totally paralyzed, yet in most cases, their minds remain sharp and alert.

An estimated 20,000 people in the United States may be living with ALS. The average life expectancy of a person with ALS is two to five years from time of diagnosis. Although there is no cure for ALS, with recent advances in research and improved medical care, many patients are living longer, more productive lives.

To continue Baseball's long-standing commitment to raising awareness of ALS, Major League Baseball launched a fundraising campaign in August 2017 to support The ALS Association's new ALS Home Health Initiative. The campaign was promoted across MLB ballparks and via MLB's media assets, including MLB.com, Club websites and MLB Network, as well as via YouCaring.com, the preferred crowdfunding platform of Major League Baseball.

Close to $200,000 was raised through fan, Club and MLB support for the ALS Home Health Initiative, which augments caregiver support through financial grants that may cover in-home care to individuals and families affected by Lou Gehrig's disease, enabling a person living with ALS to continue to reside in their home while having their care needs met. Baseball is committed to staying in the fight against ALS and raises awareness and funds for the cause through special fundraising efforts, Club activations in ballparks and in-kind media support.

Facts About ALS

  • ALS is not contagious.
  • Although the life expectancy of a person with ALS averages about two to five years from the time of diagnosis, this disease is variable, and many people can live with the disease for five years and more. More than half of all people with ALS live more than three years after diagnosis.
  • Once ALS starts, it almost always progresses, eventually taking away the ability to walk, dress, write, speak, swallow and breathe and shortening the life span. How fast and in what order this occurs is very different from person to person. While the average survival time is three years, about 20 percent of people with ALS live five years, 10 percent will survive 10 years and five percent will live 20 years or more.
  • Progression is not always a straight line in an individual either. It is not uncommon to have periods lasting weeks to months where there is very little or no loss of function. There are even very rare examples in which there is significant improvement and recovery of lost function. These ALS "arrests" and "reversals" are unfortunately usually transient. Less than one percent of patients with ALS will have significant improvement in function lasting 12 months or more.
  • Approximately 6,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. The incidence of ALS is two per 100,000 people, and it is estimated more than 20,000 Americans may be living with ALS at any given time.
  • ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries and can affect anyone.
  • Military veterans are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS.
  • The onset of ALS often involves muscle weakness or stiffness as early symptoms. Progression of weakness, wasting and paralysis of the muscles of the limbs and trunk as well as those that control vital functions such as speech, swallowing and later breathing generally follows.
  • There can be significant costs for medical care, equipment and home health caregiving later in the disease. It is important to be knowledgeable about your health plan coverage and other programs for which you may be eligible, including Social Security Disability, Medicare, Medicaid and Veteran Affairs benefits.

Donate to ALS Organizations