Pardon the people who let out a gasp when they learned that at age 51, William White has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
It doesn’t seem real.
White is one of the greatest athletes to come out of Lima as well as a truly remarkable person.
Pride, passion and perseverance is what made him a football star on Friday nights for Lima Senior, on Saturday afternoons at Ohio State, and on Sundays for 11 years with the NFL’s Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons.
He’s followed his stardom with a career as a respected businessman.What ever he is involved with, White makes sure he’s being a role model. It is something that comes naturally.
So, Lou Gehrig’s disease? It just isn’t fair.
But don’t feel sorry for White. He’s not one to want a pity party. He’ll tell you things happen for a reason. Call it coincidence or simply fate, but about the same time White was diagnosed with ALS, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Radicava, the first new drug to treat ALS symptoms in 22 years.
White will be among the initial patients in America to undergo the therapy, which will be administered at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.
“Right now, there’s no cure for ALS, but they say that with this drug, if you’ve been diagnosed early, that it can slow it down some,” White told ALS News Today from his home in Columbus. “I’m totally in on that. I’m staying positive that something like that can happen.”
Such an outlook from White is not surprising. His mantra always has been “everything starts with your attitude.” It is a point he’s often made during the many motivational talks he gives to students. It’s also what guides him as a board member of Athletes in Action and the Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary.
White’s first hint that something was seriously wrong came when his doctor noticed twitching in his arms during a routine physical late last year. A battery of tests followed along with the news he is among the 6,000 people each year in the United States who are diagnosed with ALS. Most of them are between the ages of 40 and 70.
For now, White said his symptoms haven’t affected his life much.
“Overall, I’ve kind of changed my diet a little bit, work out a little bit more — but the real bad, bad stuff, I haven’t started into that. The twitching and muscle flexes, that’s something you can’t control,” he told the ALS magazine.
In September, White begins what will be a complex and expensive routine of taking Radicava. At $1,000 per infusion, one year of treatment costs $146,000.
ALS News Today explains the drug will be administered in 28-day cycles via intravenous infusions that are given daily for two weeks, followed by two weeks of rest. In subsequent cycles, patients receive daily infusions for 10 days within a 14-day dosing period, followed by a 14-day drug-free period.
A lot of people will be cheering for White during this time. I suspect no one will be cheering louder than those in Lima.
ROSES AND THORNS: The rose garden makes room for a national officer.
Rose: To Keith Harman, of Delphos. He’s been elected the new national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, where he will lead 1.7 million members and auxiliary members.
Rose: To David Frost and Paul Swartz of the Lima Rotary Club. They initiated the Little Free Libraries project, which places locations in four Lima parks where children and adults can take out and exchange books.
Rose: To Shawnee student David Hanover, who scored the highest possible ACT composite score of 36.
Rose: To James and Catherine McPheron, of Lima. They will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on Wednesday.
Thorn: The price tag for a new juvenile detention center in Allen County has grown to as much as $7.5 million from its original estimate of $6 million.
PARTING SHOT: History shows the first tablet that could connect to the cloud was owned by Moses.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.