Wolverines ice hockey team to promote awareness of Lou Gehrig’s disease
Ann Arbor — Ice ALS!
That’s the slogan of a new grass-roots advocacy campaign that will kick off Saturday with help from the University of Michigan Wolverines ice hockey program.
It’s inspired by the efforts of U-M alum Scott Matzka, who was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) a year ago. He was not long retired from an 11-year professional hockey career, which was preceded by four years with the Wolverines, including the team’s 1998 NCAA championship season.
Since then, the father of two has advocated for increased funding and research into ALS. Public knowledge and contributions took off in 2014 during the viral Ice Bucket Challenge, and supporters hope to engage a new audience if Ice ALS! spreads throughout the hockey community.
Eva L. Feldman, MD, PhD, the renowned U-M physician-researcher who is running the first-ever trial of a stem cell treatment for ALS, will be at the game with colleagues in ALS research. She will be joined by Stephen Goutman, MD Clinical Director of the U-M ALS Clinic.
“We have been so privileged to care for Scott,” said Feldman, Research Director of the U-M ALS Clinic and head of the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute. “We need to honor him and the many other brave patients like him by dedicating more resources to developing therapies for ALS. The Ice Bucket Challenge was a great boost to medical research – now let’s all join together to completely Ice ALS!”
On Saturday, October 8, Matzka will drop the ceremonial puck at historic Yost Arena as the U-M ice hockey team faces off against New York’s Union College Dutchmen.
Matzka’s appearance is part of the Wolverine’s ALS Awareness event, which also will feature researchers and advocates for patients with the disease, kicking off “Ice ALS!” The team also will honor another former U-M player, Jim Ballantine, who passed away from ALS. All players will be wearing special patches for this game featuring a block M, ALS awareness ribbon and Scott and Jim’s jersey numbers.
A photo booth will be available for fans to pose and show their support for ALS, and fans may tweet photos to appear on the Yost Arena videoboard.
Feldman and Paula Morning, chief executive officer of the ALS Association Michigan Chapter, will be on hand before and during the match to talk with fans about the latest in ALS research and advocacy, and suggest how new supporters can get involved.
“The ALS Association Michigan Chapter board and staff, in its 28 year history of serving Michigan’s ALS population, is grateful for this opportunity,” said Morning. . “We are most delighted to be a part of this ALS Awareness Night. It is certainty a milestone in the effort to “Ice ALS” as we work to ‘Stop ALS Cold!’ through care, advocacy and research.”