Three Ohio State football legends came to Lima for a fundraiser for Lima Senior’s football program on Thursday night and one brought stunning news with him.
Former Lima Senior, Ohio State and NFL player William White is being treated for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) at OSU’s Wexner Medical Center.
The 51-year-old White is being treated with Radicava, a drug that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May. It is the first new drug to fight ALS in 22 years.
“I was diagnosed in November,” White said. There is no cure for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, causing muscles throughout the body to atrophy.
Radicava reduced symptoms of ALS in trials. White’s only symptom before or since being diagnosed has been twitching in his arms.
Two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, father of Lima Senior coach Andre Griffin, former OSU and NFL running back Keith Byars and White were the featured guests at the fundraiser at The Met in downtown Lima.
The three former Buckeyes signed autographs, talked about their football careers and Archie Griffin posed for pictures with fans for a fee.
The older Griffin won the Heisman Trophy in 1974 and 1975. But before that he was a high school star at Columbus Eastmoor High School.
He remembers those Friday night games with an intensity similar to his Saturday afternoons in Ohio Stadium.
“What stands out about my high school days is that when I went into high school, I had a goal and that goal was to be a starter as a sophomore because all my older brothers were starters as sophomores so that was a goal that I had,” Griffin said.
“I remember going up to the coach and the first thing I asked him was what would it take to be a starter. He gave me an opportunity. It ended up that I wasn’t a starter but I alternated every other play as a sophomore and it felt like I was a starter and it really made me feel good to do what my older brothers had done.
“Another thing I remember was my senior year we were playing the city championship game. The team we were playing was Linden McKinley. I grew up in the Linden area and my family moved out to the Eastmoor area during my ninth grade year.
“Linden McKinley, all those players were guys I had played with when I was young. I will never forget the day before the game we went to a luncheon the Agonis Club had and they had our coach and a player and Linden’s coach and a player there and Linden’s coach, when they introduced me to him, he looked at me and pointed his finger in my chest and said, ‘You’re not that big, we can stop you.’
“All I remember doing is going back to school and thinking about what that man said. It fired me up to play that game the next day and we went out and won that game. We were the city champs,” Griffin said.
Andre Griffin is in his second year as Lima Senior’s coach. The Spartans were 6-4 in his first season last fall.
Before coming to Lima Senior, he coached in college as an assistant at Saginaw Valley State University and Capital University.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.