A little break from the normal here on “Off the Mic” this week. Got a chance to catch up with former UMaine football player and state championship-winning quarterback Jackson Taylor of Windham this weekend (sorry for the memories, Bangor fans). Part two of this interview (the football and high school athlete portion) will run later this week, but for now it’s time to pour water on those who have decried the popular “Ice Bucket Challenge”. Taylor lost his father, Keith, to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, so he’s a little more qualified than most to offer an opinion.
“I think the ALS challenge is the best thing that could have ever happened for ALS,” said Taylor. “More than anything, I am most happy that people are actually looking up what the disease is and understanding the severity of it. I can remember people asking me what Lou Gehrig’s disease many times and (still not having them) understand the disease entirely. Now, I feel like people do understand and are willing to help the many people who face this disease every day.”
Keith Taylor was diagnosed with ALS in 2008 and passed away in March of this year.
“I also feel it’s a fun way to get people involved with something. Dumping ice on your head seems so silly, but people have gotten amazing laughter and joy from doing it,” said Taylor. “More than that, it is wonderful to know that people are donating every time one of those buckets dumps. Even if just one person of a group that is nominated donates, that is more and more money being put into finding a cure for ALS. Now, much like Alzheimer’s and breast cancer, ALS has a great deal of awareness around it and that is something that makes me incredibly happy. It has been great to see some of my friends and coaches from high school doing the challenge in memory of my dad. It is humbling to know the people he had an impact on in the community and now that same community is getting behind this great cause and raising awareness for ALS.”
According to the ALS Association, donations have surpassed over $15 million dollars, compared to 1.8 million dollars over the same stretch last year.
So next time you share that funny internet meme of the kid complaining that people are wasting clean water for this challenge, think of Keith Taylor, his wife Beth, and his three kids, Jackson, Jaclyn, and Jessica.
Later this week, we’ll catch up with Jackson on his post UMaine football career, and remember that magical 2009 football season.
To donate to ALS, click here.