Aside from riding & working on bikes, my greatest pleasure is reading. I have books, dog-eared and half-read, stashed around the house like an alcoholic has bottles of cheap booze.
Since my work life doesn't involve reading (or, for that matter, thinking, or a soul), I subscribe to, and avidly digest, the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books, to give me pointers to new material. Through these publications, I've gotten to read some work by historian Tony Judt, especially his periodic reminiscent essays in the NYRB.
In the last-but-one issue of NYRB, I found this letter:
As many of you know, I am afflicted with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. For the past year now I have been wheelchair-bound and dependent on a breathing apparatus. This has not prevented me from working, but the disease is progressive and deadly—and there is no known cure.
ALS is a degenerative neuromuscular disorder of the motor neurons: it is related to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as lesser-known neurological disorders. A cure for it will almost certainly come from research in the field of cell genetics—whether via stem cell research or molecular biology. But the science is complicated and expensive. In order to attract funding we need to draw the widest possible attention to this deadly disease and its impact.
I am writing to you today about Move for ALS. My former student and young friend Saul Goldberg is planning to cycle with Augustin Quancard from Seattle to New York City to draw attention to ALS and to raise money for Project A.L.S., which supports scientific research seeking a cure to this disease. I am very enthusiastic about Move for ALS, both because I keenly second its objectives and because I am hugely impressed by the professionalism and seriousness of the two young men involved. They have established a substantial campaign Web site (www.moveforals.com) that has already attracted the attention and backing of Web and print media, as well as the support of professional medical organizations.
I am fully supporting this venture and urge you to join me. If you access the Web site you will see how easy it is to make a donation to the cause, with attractive gifts on offer to substantial donors. Or you could simply send a check with clear reference to Move for ALS to: Project A.L.S., 3960 Broadway, Suite 420, New York, NY 10032, USA. I would be grateful and take it as a sign of support if you would be good enough to forward this letter to any interested parties. If you have direct access to media or Web outlets (e.g., blogs) where you could give further publicity to our campaign, this would be especially helpful to us. Saul is making a huge personal contribution to the challenge posed by this catastrophic disease: please do anything you can to support him.
Tony Judt New York City
For more information on Saul Goldberg's campaign, see http://www.openculture.com/2010/03/tony_judt_confronts_als.html or http://www.moveforals.com. To get in touch with the riders, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.