October 8, 2018
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan ice hockey team will host its third annual ALS Awareness Game on October 26 at Yost Ice Arena when it faces St. Lawrence University at 7:30 p.m.
The Michigan hockey program has been significantly impacted by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Scott Matzka, who played for U-M from 1997-2001 and assisted on the goal that gave the Wolverines the 1998 NCAA Championship, was diagnosed with ALS in 2014. Former Michigan player Jim Ballantine (1988-1991), died from ALS in 2002. And Joe Feudi, the husband of former Yost Arena business office manager Jill Feudi, is also fighting the disease.
The event is held in conjunction with Michigan Medicine’s ALS Center of Excellence, which specializes in treating ALS patients and conducting groundbreaking ALS research. The Center will be represented on the concourse by physicians,
researchers and clinical staff to help fans better understand just how devastating the neurodegenerative disease is to patients and their families. Additionally, information about ALS will be featured periodically on the Yost Ice Arena video boards.
“Each week in the clinic we see how ALS profoundly impacts lives,” said Stephen Goutman, M.D., clinical director of the ALS Center of Excellence. “We work closely with our laboratories to understand how ALS progresses – and hopefully learn how we can finally stop it. Increasing awareness about ALS is critical to our work, and having the Michigan hockey program in our corner is incredibly valuable.”
“As a former Wolverine hockey player, I am extremely proud and excited to see how the Michigan hockey program has shown support for me and the ALS cause,” Matzka said in an email. “Ultimately, I am so moved by the hockey program and former teammates with their level of support! It means so much to me and my family!”
Game attendees are encouraged to use #IceALS on social media platforms to further extend awareness about the disease. Visit the event website, https://www.uofmhealth.org/iceals, for more details and history of the event.
Tickets can be purchased at mgoblue.com/tickets.
ALS is a disease that steadily kills the nerves that control muscles. Patients lose the ability to control their limbs, facial muscles, swallowing, and eventually, the ability to breathe. Typically, patients die between 2-5 years after diagnosis. There is no known cure.
But ALS wreaks havoc on patients’ families as well. Many ALS-related medical services are not covered by insurance, and care for ALS patients is so intensive that family members frequently have to give up their jobs. Medical expenses and lost income amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The multidisciplinary clinic of the ALS Center of Excellence provides a wide range of service to ALS patients, including physical, occupational and respiratory therapists, a nutritionist, a social worker, and a chair specialist – all of which are important to ALS patients and their families. The clinic fund covers services that aren’t billable to insurance.
“Each service we provide is necessary for the independence, mobility and well-being of our patients,” said Eva Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., research director of the ALS Center of Excellence. “These patients couldn’t function without those services. But too often they have to be covered by monies that would otherwise go to ALS research. It’s a terrible conundrum that these patients face daily.”
To make a donation or to learn more about the University of Michigan ALS Center of Excellence, please visit www.umich-ALS.org.