He called it “A Whole New Ball Game”. Neil’s idea was to build upon The University of Pittsburgh’s historic rundown of the Polio virus by Dr. Jonas Salk and invest LiveLikeLou.org funds in ALS research to find a therapy or a cure. New research. What’s called “basic science”. This means we would invest in the coalescence of the 120 neuroscientists already at the University, and focus their efforts within The Brain Institute, under the guidance of National Academy of Sciences-acclaimed researcher Dr. Peter Strick and with the recruitment of a top emerging expert in the ALS field, Dr. Christopher Donnelly, most recently from Johns Hopkins. And then we would expand research and go even deeper into the causes of ALS and the related afflictions of Alzheimers, Huntingtons and Frontal Temporal Dementia. The LiveLikeLou.org pledge from February 2015 to raise $2.5 million kicked off this effort, and then The University of Pittsburgh and the UPMC Department of Neurosciences MATCHED us… bringing a total of $5 million toward what we believe will be the $10 million Research Center. And that’s just the beginning.
I have so much more to tell you about the research. But for the moment I’m going to focus on this SUPER FABULOUS NEWS…
UPMC has generously underwritten the expense to install a permanent “Donor Wall of Fame”. This 17’ long x 8’ high wall was designed by a committee led (pro bono) by Continental Building Systems leader Matt Curtis and designer Ryan Stimmel, along with input from our nephew Matthew Alexander, and managed by UPMCs Steve Albert and Krin Kirijas. It will be installed in the next couple of months on the walking bridge between UPMC Montefiore and UPMC Presbyterian Hospitals in Oakland, where more than 900 patient transfers occur each day, along with foot traffic from physicians, researchers and families. Donors who have given to LiveLikeLou since 2012, in an amount of $2,500 or more, will have their names or the name of their honored loved one, permanently displayed on this wall. Fun fact… we have had more than 6,000 donors to LiveLikeLou since we started this journey and have raised $2.7 million to date!
I’m smiling as I write this. Neil and I toured the site options for this wall just six weeks before he passed away. He was delighted with the visibility of this location. And he would be SPEECHLESS at this beautiful design… the image of Lou Gehrig’s Luckiest Man Speech is on the wall, with three monitors in front of it to scroll/display donations ranging in $2,500 to – $99,999. The higher level of donor names will be affixed to the glass for gifts ranging in size of $100,000 to greater than $1 million. To the left of the Gehrig image is a color monitor that will continuously display ALS research announcements, pictures of events and news from the Center.
This will be a very important tool to continue to raise awareness and funds for ALS research at our Center long into the future!
It is beautiful. It has so much meaning built into the design. And our more than 6,000 LiveLikeLou donors will find their acknowledgement in at least one entry on this wall … for example at The Iron Horse Level for gifts greater than $1 million the first line will read Donors of LiveLikeLou.org. That’s YOU!
By the end of Summer I will send a letter to donors whose names will appear on the wall so we can confirm spellings, etc. Donors who have given more than $2,500 via our donation accounts with United Way of Allegheny County, our LiveLikeLou.org fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation, and The Live Like Lou Center for ALS Research at The University of Pittsburgh can expect the letter soon.
You are amazing! Below are some pictures of our most recent design meeting where we looked at material samples for the first time and walked to the site for a quick wall measure…