Thank you Borje
My brother and I grew up watching hockey. I especially remember watching Saturday Night hockey on television set. Our team was, and forever will be, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Christopher knew all the players and always told me to keep my eyes on. Christopher even played hockey until our mom pulled him out, when the game started getting physical.
So, seeing Borje Salming accompanied by Darryl Sittler and Mats Sundin on the ice on Friday night was one that I’ll never forget.
For those of you who don’t know, Borje announced to the world in August 2022 that he was living with ALS.
ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Most people diagnosed with ALS live for two to five years with it. Slowly, or sometimes very quickly, you lose the
use of your voluntary muscles, the ones you use to walk, talk, eat, or in Borje’s case, the ability to raise your right arm to acknowledge the crowd. Luckily Borje had his good friend and team captain Darryl do it for him.
It is in these moments that you see ALS in action.
It was in the way both
Darryl and Mats stood closely to Borje on Friday night.
And in the way Borje’s wife held his hand and his family stood close while Borje was celebrated on Saturday night.
Borje can still clap his hands.
But he cannot speak any more and has trouble eating.
What we did see was the overwhelming emotion Borje displayed as he was lauded this weekend in his, self-proclaimed second home of Toronto.
Borje felt all the love we threw at him because most people with ALS do not lose any cognitive function.
So while Borje might n
ot be able to thank us verbally for our love and gratitude.
He definitely was feeling it.
This is what ALS does.
Borje played 1099 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 16 years. He is still the highest scoring defenseman in their history.
Now Borje fights the hardest fight of his life.
And, because I know first hand, so do his family and his friends.
Seeing Borje and the ceremonies that surrounded him this weekend is just another reminder that ALS can strike anyone, anywhere in the world. It also hit close to home in some way, reminding me of my brother who loved hockey, that little boy, half awake, getting his skates put on by our father.
Christopher too grew to be a strong young man, who had to fight ALS. In the end, ALS was stronger, but I promised, I would not stop raising awareness and sharing his story until we make ALS history.