The night was incredible! Thanks to everyone who came out last night and supported us. I can't wait to do it again!
First and foremost I'd like to thank the Chicago chapter for their tremendous support of my family and dedication to making my life better.
I am conflicted up here on the stage. I am very honored to receive this award but at the same time I really wish I wasn't because then I would not have ALS. What I do wish is that my legs still worked, my arms still worked, then I could be out there on the dance floor juking with my beautiful wife. But, due to ALS that is no longer possible. Instead, I'm confined to this wheelchair, someone has to hold my speech out in front of me, and later when I got to take a piss thanks all these beers someone will have to unzip my fly and help me pee. ALS can kiss my ass.
I've been an advocate for others ever since I was a little kid. My little sister Eliza has Down syndrome and when we were younger I was the only one who could understand her. I would translate her delayed speech to my parents, friends.
This advocacy for kids with special needs translated into a career as a special education teacher where I continue to advocate to this day for individuals with special needs. I've always fought for the underdog. You can make the case that I'm the underdog now.
ALS robs you of your strength, your hobbies, independence, the list goes on. It's hard to face the diagnosis and keep fighting when it feels like everything is being stripped away from you.
I've found courage in this fight against ALS in my beautiful wife Michelle. Don't let her small stature fool you, her faith in God, perseverance, and advocacy for me and others with this disease are tremendous.
My Gronk's Grace army that gathers its forces at a moments notice for anything, whether it's a beer and an ear after a brutal day or a commanding turnout at the Walk this fall, their courage, love and dedication is infectious.
The prayers that have showered me from thousands of people, some I know well, others I don't know at all have lifted me to keep fighting. Knowing that my pain has a purpose. A purpose I don't fully understand but can fight for.
What I know for sure is the courage This underdog has is not self-created. Michelle's pure love for me, the overwhelming advocacy from my friends and family and the support from God have given me the courage to use this disease to make a difference. This underdog still has a lot of fight left in him. A fight that I'm going to use to keep advocating for people with ALS. ALS can't win, because I've already won.
Thank you, God bless.