The reason behind the drive to win an internal raffle

man at baseball stadium with a bat

When it was announced that all staff could participate in an internal raffle where the victor would be given $1,000 to his or her charity of choice, Thad Russell, physical therapy assistant in Seaford knew he not only would participate in it but had to win it.

Thad wanted to win the lottery so he could make a donation to the ALS Clinic at the Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury in the memory of his close friend, Robert Ortiz.

Thad was stunned to learn when his close friend of 10 years, Robert Ortiz, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS. After a long four years, countless doctor appointments, and a good fight, Robert lost his battle to this debilitating disease in June of 2014 at the age of 50.

The ALS Association defines the disease as, “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease,’ is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death.”

The ALS Association continues, “A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language “A” means no or negative.”Myo” refers to muscle, and “Trophic” means nourishment–”No muscle nourishment.” When a muscle has no nourishment, it “atrophies” or wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region.”

During the summer of 2014, ALS moved to the forefront of both current news, social media and daily conversation due to the highly successful “ice bucket challenge” where the ALS Foundation, since this blog was written, received over $115 million in donations from three million people across the world.

Thad says that Robert was such a great and positive person, before and during his battle with ALS. He left behind his wife, Amy, and their two young children, Julia and Ethan.

So with Robert in the forefront of his memory, Thad yearned to win the internal raffle and to his surprise, he did! Both Tidewater Physical Therapy and Thad were honored to present a check to the Eastern Shore Chapter of the ALS Foundation in August. Robert was from Salisbury so Thad thought it only fitting to keep the donation local.