Orchard Park, N.Y. - In honor of his well-known high school coach Charlie Wedemeyer, who has the progressive, neurodegenerative disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards will launch a new program that will help people living with ALS as well as their families each time he leads his team to a touchdown.
"Trent's Touchdowns for ALS," which begins on Sunday, October 11th when the Buffalo Bills play the Cleveland Browns has two objectives: raise money for the Upstate New York Chapter of The ALS Association by encouraging fans and corporations to pledge a minimum amount of money for a minimum number of touchdowns, and to raise awareness about the disease.
"I'm pleased to partner with The ALS Association and to be part of the efforts that improve quality of life for individuals and families coping with ALS, while creating awareness and supporting research for a cure," Edwards said.
"We're counting on Trent to have his best season yet and that the Buffalo Bills go to the Super Bowl," said Jane H. Gilbert, president and CEO of The Association. "We would like to see Trent lead the Buffalo Bills to as many touchdowns as possible so that The ALS Association can intercept and put to an end this deadly disease."
The monies raised go to support numerous free services and programs provided to people who have what is commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease and to their families.
Edwards' passion for helping The Association fight ALS stems from his own very personal connection with the disease. While attending Los Gatos High School in Calif., Edwards played for Wedemeyer, who was diagnosed with ALS in 1977 and continues to coach today. His life story was chronicled in the PBS documentary "One More Season" and the movie "Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story."
"Coach Wedemeyer and his wife Lucy are an inspiration to me on and off the field," said Edwards, honorary chairperson of the chapter's Walk to Defeat ALS fundraiser in Buffalo. "It is for them and all the people whose lives have been affected by ALS that I dedicate this program which I hope will be supported by fans of the game everywhere."
Fans and corporations that decide to participate in the program during the season will be eligible to receive prizes, based on the level of giving. Fans and corporations who make a $250 minimum gift will be invited to attend a celebration hosted by Edwards and his sister Shelby in December at the headquarters of Greatbatch, Inc. in Clarence, NY. Greatbatch, Inc. is the presenting sponsor of "Trent's Touchdowns for ALS."
"This program demonstrates Trent Edwards' commitment to his community and specifically to the fight against ALS," said Katharine Loomis, executive director of the Upstate New York Chapter of The Association. "Each touchdown scored when Trent Edwards is in the game will help the Buffalo Bills have a successful season and give hope to people living with ALS."
The levels of giving for "Trent's Touchdowns for ALS" are $10 per touchdown ($100 minimum gift); $25 per touchdown ($250 minimum gift); and $50 per touchdown ($500 minimum gift). To sign up for "Trent's Touchdowns for ALS," call the chapter toll-free at 866-499-7257 or visit their website at www.alsaupstateny.org.
ALS causes the progressive death of the motor nerve cells that operate muscles, robbing the brain of its ability to initiate and control movement. Approximately 30,000 Americans have the disease, for which there is no effective treatment or cure, and can expect to survive on average two to five years from the time of diagnosis. While the disease strikes people regardless of their age, race or gender, military veterans are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS as those with no history of military service.