The Live Like Lou Foundation is proud to announce its 2023 Iron Horse Scholarship recipients and finalists. Since the foundation’s inception in 2018, 20 students have now received the full Iron Horse Scholarship valued at up to $17,040. The scholarship is funded at $2,130 per semester for four years in honor of Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record of 2,130, and for four years in honor of his retired Yankees jersey number.
The Iron Horse Scholarship Selection Committee, led by Live Like Lou board treasurer Greyson Geiler, reviewed applications from a competitive pool of more than 80 applicants from throughout the United States and Canada, and began the selection process in March.
Four individuals were selected to receive the full Iron Horse Scholarship ($17,040), two received the Lou Gehrig Memorial Scholarship ($2,130), and 13 received one-time Onward Awards ($500-2,000).
Leah is pursuing her Master of Nursing in Public and Population Health at Worchester State University. Leah’s husband, Richard, was diagnosed with ALS in February 2019 when she was seven months pregnant with their second child and had a toddler at home.
“Like Lou, I am driven by a sense of courage and determination to make a difference, even in the face of adversity, shared Leah. “For me, courage isn't just about facing big challenges or obstacles. It's also about making the most of every moment and living life to the fullest.” Her letter of recommendation shared with us that in addition to being a wife, mother, and student, Leah is a school nurse, who advocates for the disabled by ensuring there are accessible walkways and venues in her town, was recently named a content creator for Boston Moms, and is co-chair of the town’s Family Connection program which plans events for families with young children.
Wil is a sophomore at Pennsylvania State University-Behrend studying marketing so he can use his degree to "help raise money, awareness and bring ALS further into the light.” Sarah, his mom, was diagnosed with ALS in 2022 made Wil rethink his future. At that time, he had just finished his first year at a different college, was playing on the football team, and studying finance. He decided to move home and switch schools so he could spend more time with her knowing that there is no predicting how ALS will progress.
“To relate my gratitude to Lou Gehrig’s ‘Luckiest Man’ speech—even though I know I will lose my mom to a terrible disease—I too feel blessed for the family I have, my ‘teammates’ in life, and how good the ‘game’ of life has been to me so far. Gratitude in my life is bigger than ALS and it is bigger than sadness. Gratitude is in every hug, conversation, and moment that my mom is here with me.”
Gabi will attend Oregon State University in the fall to study marine science and oceanography, her dream since she was a child. Gabi’s mom, Jennifer, passed away in February of 2023 after a four-and-a-half-year battle with ALS. Gabi was 14 years old when her mom was diagnosed and not long after, they decided to change the meaning of ALS to “always laughing and smiling.” Her letter of recommendation noted that Gabi inherited her mom’s smile, which lights up a room.
Gabi is inspired by the courage Lou Gehrig showed as he had to tell the world he was no longer able to play baseball because of ALS and she saw that same trait in her mother. “Through tear-stained eyes, my mother asked me to sit down. I watched her muster up all the courage she had as she told me she was dying. It was at that moment I learned what courage meant. It doesn’t mean you aren’t scared to death, because my mom certainly was. It means your faith must become bigger than your fear. I imagine Lou was filled with mixed emotions the day he gave that famous speech. Fear and disappointment being two of them. Yet he expressed deep gratitude for the life he had been given. He was courage in the flesh that day.”
Brendan will attend Southern Illinois University to study business in Fall 2023.
“A busy bee, buzzing from one spot to the next but always making time to stop by her favorite flowers: her grandchildren. I will always carry that image of my grandma Schmitt in my heart.” Brendan’s grandmother, Joyce, continued to attend his soccer games after she had to use a wheelchair for mobility. She lost her battle with ALS in October 2018.
“Humility is a quality I observed in my grandma many years ago that I wanted to carry on, not only in her spirit but because it helps open my eyes to all those around me.” Brendan described his grandmother as someone who put everyone first and did not expect anything in return. “My grandma's memory encourages me not to be afraid of hard work to achieve my goals. This is for you, grandma.”
In partnership with Lou Gehrig’s fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, Live Like Lou is pleased to award Lou Gehrig Memorial Scholarships for $2,130 each to ALS families in two Major League Baseball markets in conjunction with the fraternity’s Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. Congratulations to:
Madelyn, attending the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, will be celebrated at the Chicago White Sox ALS awareness game on August 8 in recognition of Liam Hendriks as a finalist for the Gehrig Award. Madelyn’s father, Jason, was diagnosed with ALS in 2017 and passed away earlier this year.
Madelyn is pursuing a Nursing degree at the University of Tennessee. “Seeing how well the nurses helped my family made me want to become one and give back. I decided to pursue an education to be a light for other people when they are going through the unimaginable because even the slightest positivity can go a long way.”
Zoe, attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham, will be celebrated at the Atlanta Braves Lou Gehrig Day celebration on June 6 in recognition of Sam Hilliard as a finalist for the Gehrig Award. Zoe’s dad, Robert, was diagnosed with ALS in 2021.
Zoe is studying kinesiology and exercise science and plans to attend physical therapy school after getting her bachelor’s degree. Zoe said that, “being a caregiver has shown me that I truly want to spend my time helping others. I aspire to be a physical therapist one day and help people from all walks of life rehabilitate back to their health and full potential.”
In recognition of the outstanding accomplishments of our 2023 Iron Horse Scholarship finalists, Live Like Lou was pleased to fund additional one-time awards to the following students in ALS families:
Noa Davis—Miami University; Noa’s father Scott was diagnosed with ALS in 2022
Taylor Ford—Sam Houston State University; Taylor’s father Christopher was diagnosed with ALS in 2020
Nicole Fosco—Saint Joseph’s University; Nicole’s father Edward was diagnosed with ALS in 2019
Renee Fosco—Saint Joseph’s University; Renee’s father Edward was diagnosed with ALS in 2019
Grayson Galentine—Cumberland University; Grayson’s father Bryan was diagnosed with ALS in 2016 and passed away in 2020
Meghna Iyer—Georgia Institute of Technology; Meghna’s mother Suneeti was diagnosed with ALS in 2022
Imran Khawaja—Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Imran’s father Tabassum was diagnosed with ALS in 2018
Zakery Knight—University of North Florida; Zakery’s father Daniel was diagnosed with ALS in 2017
Jacob Maza—Webster University; Jacob’s mother Shannon was diagnosed with ALS in 2018
Reagan Olivier—Augustana University; Reagan’s father Jerry was diagnosed with ALS in 2019 and passed away in 2022
Jade Selle—University of Washington; Jade’s mother Peggy was diagnosed with ALS in 2018 and passed away in 2021
Katherine Stadum—College of Saint Benedict; Katherine’s mother Jennifer was diagnosed with ALS in 2021
Alberto Vargas—Miami University; Alberto’s step-father Chad was diagnosed in 2021 and passed away in 2022
Since 2018 and through this year, Live Like Lou is proud to have awarded $179,000 in scholarships and one-time grants to ALS families. These funds are made possible through the generosity of donors and friends and ease the financial burden to ALS families in pursuit of higher education.
This year, additional one-time award funds were made possible through the philanthropic work of Lou Gehrig’s fraternity brothers in Phi Delta Theta. The Iron Phi program was established in 2010 to strengthen the Fraternity and its impact on the fight against Lou Gehrig’s disease through the fundraising and athletic efforts of its people.
To become an Iron Phi, one must raise $1,000 and complete an athletic challenge of their choosing. To date, 1,705 individuals have become Iron Phis. In the Fall of 2022, a unique challenge was offered: gather your “starting lineup” of nine individuals to become Iron Phis. The Iron 9 challenge brought together Phi Delts and friends to rally support for the Iron Phi program and the top fundraising individual and teams were able to direct financial support to ALS families.
John Harkey, a Phi Delt alumnus from Eastern Kentucky University, became an Iron Phi in October by completing a 100-mile bike ride in honor of his friend Laurie Roselle, diagnosed with ALS in 2021. John raised $2,516.50 and was the top fundraising individual during the Iron 9 challenge and he chose to direct $2,500 to fund additional one-time awards to ALS families.
Butler University Phi Delts put forward two Iron 9 teams in the fall, who collectively raised $9,892 during the Iron 9 challenge. Their top team raised $5,539 and like John, they chose to direct their $5,000 in support to ALS families to fund additional one-time scholarship awards.
Live Like Lou is immensely grateful to its friends at Phi Delta Theta for their ongoing support and advocacy for ALS families, in funding ALS research, and helping to generate awareness of Brother Lou Gehrig and the disease that now bears his name.