For at least one day, hope springs eternalALS patient enjoys a special day at Yankee Stadium
NEW YORK -- They were told they were invited to watch batting practice on the field at Yankee Stadium on the morning of July 22, 2009. That's pretty cool, thought George Murray and his wife Kim. On Sunday, George received a videotaped invite from Teixeira to attend Wednesday's game with his son, wife Kim and all four of his son's grandparents. And it just so happens that July 22, 2009 is George and Kim's ninth anniversary. A former paratrooper and veteran of the Army's 82nd Airborne, Murray, 38, is terminally ill with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) whose dream was to take four-year-old Trason.
The Murrays along with all four of Trason's grandparents were taking in all in, the crack of ball meeting bat under a picture-perfect sky. Then Joba Chamberlain walked over to say hello and shake hands, followed by a few of his teammates. It was then it occurred to Kim that the afternoon wasn't turning out to be a routine day at the park.
Batting practice and meeting players was deemed pretty cool. Then the family was led not to seats, but to the Billy Martin luxury suite, wondering exactly where they were going. Then it hit them: A contingent of 30-plus loved ones were inside -- along with Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Phil Hughes, Brian Bruney, Phil Coke, Hideki Matsui and Cody Ransom.
George and Kim had no clue. Once those doors opened, there was George, his son on his lap and confined to a wheelchair, ALS having robbed him of the use of his arms and legs, being showered with one of the greatest moments of his life. If there was such a thing as perfection, this was it.
"Right away I saw friends and family mingling with players ... it's just so overwhelming," Kim said. "I just started crying right away."
She could only imagine how George was feeling. A dream come true? This was bigger.
"Oh man," said George, trying to measure his words. "Not in my wildest dreams," George said. "I'm just so thankful and it means so much to experience this with people so close to me. Ever since I was a child I've dreamt about that."
This was the next chapter of HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel), an outstanding community program that is bringing to light five remarkable stories intended to inspire individuals into action in their own communities. In George Murray's case, his ninth anniversary was another day to cherish while living on borrowed time. Healthy and athletic, George and his wife moved into their house, gave birth to their son, Trason, and working as an elementary school guidance counselor after serving in the 82nd Airborne for three years and performing a peacekeeping mission in Haiti before receiving an honorable discharge.
Life was grand, and then came a cruel twist of fate. A doctor told the couple that George was diagnosed with ALS and given three to five years to live. Students of Yankees history know how ALS broke down two powerful men named Lou Gehrig and Jim "Catfish" Hunter. Gehrig told 50,000 people he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Hunter lived the rest of his life the way he always did, with dignity. Before he passed away last year, Bobby Murcer carried the attitude that he was bigger than the sickness that would claim him, brain cancer.
At 36 years old -- the same as when Gehrig learned he was stricken with ALS -- Murray decided it was time to fight back. Like Gehrig and Hunter, Murray was going to show ALS that a man strong in body was going to be invincible in spirit.
"I remember it was something bad, and the doctor telling us and my wife crying us the whole time," George said. "I said, 'Alright what's next? What do we do? I'm ready.' That's the exact attitude I've kept today and it'll remain with me. I will keep fighting.
"I never attempted to compare myself to those real men. I think if we all look inside us, then maybe we can have some of that strength. They were both, and still are, an inspiration to me. I'm feeling great. I feel like I'm holding up and have plenty of reason to do that."
For those reasons and more, Kim has found the strength to also stand and fight.
"George has gone about this with a lot of strength and class. I'm very proud of him," said Kim, her face flowing with tears. "For me I'm not always the pillar of strength, but he's living every day to the fullest and making the best of it. He says every day he's going to beat it. This is proof that dreams can come true. Hopefully he will beat it. I believe in him."
|"I remember it was something bad, and the doctor telling us and my wife crying us the whole time," George said. "I said, 'Alright what's next? What do we do? I'm ready.' That's the exact attitude I've kept today and it'll remain with me. I will keep fighting."|
| George Murray upon learning he has ALS|
"People often ask me, 'How do you do it?' We do it because we love George," Kim said. "We're trying to make every day the most for him and as happy as we can. We also remind ourselves somewhere out there we might have it bad, but there's people that have it worse than us. We have a pretty good life. We can't complain.
"George is a lucky man. He has a family, he has a son and people who love him surrounding him. He really does have a wonderful life."
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