GRADUATE FROM THE ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE
TO THE NICE BUCKET CHALLENGE...
We've got an awful lot to live for
BY ANTOINETTE RAINONE
Unless you’ve had a, well, bucket or something over your head, you’ve surely noticed The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS being splashed all over social media. The number of people getting doused in icy water this summer has been nothing short of astounding, from celebrities to former presidents to our kids on the block.
Through this, attention to ALS – amyotrophic lateral schlerosis – has been renewed. The ALS Foundation has reportedly received 94 million dollars from the challenge. Despite what contrarians say, the numbers speak for themselves. The ice bucket challenge has been a phenomenal success.
ALS is also known as “Lou Gehrig's disease,” in honor of the great Yankee first baseman who succumbed to the deadly degenerative nerve disease at age 37.
Ironically, this year marks the 75th anniversary of No. 4's iconic speech, respectfully commemorated at Yankee Stadium on July 4.
The most striking aspect of his farewell-to-baseball speech -- recited by a man who knew he was dying -- is that it is full of OPTIMISM! Although Gehrig had no choice but to retire from baseball, he did have a choice whether or not to be truly defeated in the game of life.
Lou Gehrig chose not to be defeated. All of us can gleam important lessons from Gehrig’s words…
“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”
Gehrig’s bad break did not deter him from considering himself the “luckiest man on the face of this earth.” Gehrig chose to face his bad break and confront it head on.
Next, Gehrig chose to state why he was so lucky, despite the ALS that would inevitably kill him.
“I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.”
Gehrig chose to list the people in his life whom he values.
“Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?
“Sure, I'm lucky.
“Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins?
“Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy?
“Sure, I'm lucky.”
Gehrig chose to talk about the wonderful things that have happened to him for which he is so grateful:
“When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that's something.
“When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies - that's something.
“When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something.
“When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body - it's a blessing.
“When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed - that's the finest I know.”
Finally, Gehrig qualifies his “bad break” with an amazing statement:
“So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for.”
Gehrig was an Iron Horse on the field, but he was an even greater one off the field. Faced with a terminal illness, he proclaimed: “I've got an awful lot to live for.”
We can all gain inspiration from Gehrig. Whatever we’re going through, let's recall Gehrig's words. In fact, why don’t all of us get in the habit of doing this everyday?
Here’s my own version of the “ice bucket challenge.” I call it the “nice bucket challenge.”
Get an empty bucket. Fill it with NICE things. Fill it with personal reflections and mementos, inspired by Gehrig:
* I consider myself the luckiest person on the face of this earth because ….
Recall all the amazing things that have happened in your life, like Gehrig did. Write them down on pieces of paper, and fill your bucket.
* When [blank happened], that’s something.
Make a list of all the “that's somethings” in your life, the circumstances that you’ve been blessed with, like Gehrig did. Write them down on pieces of paper, and fill your bucket.
* Sure, I’m lucky ... Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known …
Recall the people in your life who have had an amazing impact on you, like Gehrig did. Write down their names on pieces of paper, and a few words on why they are so special. Fill your bucket.
Keep your bucket in a special place where you can be alone with your thoughts. Feel free to decorate your bucket, too. Fill it with all things nice from your life -- words, photos, souvenirs and mementos. Fill it anytime and fill it often. And if you have a friend who is going through a tough time, challenge him or her to do the Nice Bucket Challenge.
After a while, we’ll begin to notice our buckets are not so empty anymore. Because we've got an awful lot to live for.
Find your wings … at any age.