For the past 20 years, David Garber has been the toughest guy I know.
He lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and swam every day in the ocean, winter included. That's David and his family a few years ago.
Today, David has ALS and depends on a ventilator. He is a very smart guy, and his mind is as sharp as ever. But David lives in a body that no longer works.
This Saturday, a group of people will gather in front of David's house for the 3rd annual David's Old Silver Swim to support Compassionate Care ALS (CCALS).
This organization, based in David's town, offers individualized support to those currently living with ALS, as well as their families and caregivers.
Before you go on with your daily routine, I'd like you to stop for a moment and consider what it must be like to live with ALS. David's friend, Mike Fishbein, wrote a beautiful description of David's spirit:
David breathes through a tracheostomy tube and communicates with a computer which translates eye movements into words. Despite these rather formidable challenges, David's favorite t-shirt reads "MARVELOUS " and he signs his e-mails 'living large' and 'still swinging for the fences.' David brought 25 members of his entourage of family and friends to Fenway Park for the Paul McCartney concert. Yes, David is still swinging for the fences. When Buzzards Bay froze over, he created a hole in the ice in order to keep his record alive. His coup de grace was making the 5 mile swim from Falmouth to Martha's Vineyard in order to celebrate turning 50."Move again, but with renewed determination ...
You might choose to make a donation to CCALS or another organization like it. If you know how to code, design or invent, you could volunteer your efforts for Speak Your Mind Foundation, a non-profit organization spun out of the BrainGate lab at Brown University in Providence, RI.
As the video below shows, they help improve the technology that helps people like David communicate with others.
Their founder and executive director, Dan Bacher, explains, "We believe the current assistive technology industry is broken, and we think our bottoms-up, crowd-sourced approach has an opportunity to make a significant impact - especially for individuals with the most severe forms of neurological injury and disease who desperately need better communication solutions."
The people with the greatest strength of character are not those who lead companies or win athletic events.
The real champions are people like David whose spirit burns brightly even when others cannot see it. They deserve not only credit, but also our active support. David, there is no doubt: you are still the toughest guy I know.