St. Agnes students, staff raise money in honor of Lou Gehrig Day

Seb Granlund enjoys his slushie while posing with his mother, Tracey, and sister, Daphne who were helping with the field day at St. Agnes School on June 2. (Provided photo — Alicia Brandes)

LAKE PLACID — St. Agnes School students and staff came together on Wednesday, June 2 to raise money for a nonprofit that helps support people diagnosed with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

In honor of Lou Gehrig Day — named after the New York Yankees player who was forced to retire after being diagnosed with ALS — St. Agnes School hosted a field day for its students complete with games, a dunk tank and a slushie machine. On Wednesday afternoon, kindergarteners were out in the school parking lot enjoying the sun, some running from game to game, some throwing footballs through hoops and others giggling as they hid under a giant rainbow parachute. Proceeds from the event are going to Sandy’s Steps, a St. Lawrence County-based nonprofit group that supports people who have been diagnosed with ALS.

Altogether, students and staff raised $1,000, according to St. Agnes religion teacher Kristin Clark.

“We wanted to do something local so we knew the money was going toward a good cause,” she said.

Clark spearheaded the field day event. Her uncle, Jim Lindley, died of ALS at the age of 50. Before he died, Sandy’s Steps helped the family get around easier by purchasing them a handicap-accessible van, and made his home more accessible, according to Clark. His two-story home was outfitted with an elevator.

She watched as the disease progressed, and he went from walking with a limp to not being able to talk or eat on his own. His children came together to help him, she said.

“They put everything aside, and it didn’t matter, they’d just help him. He was there mentally, but his body just shut down,” she said. “I think it takes a really strong individual to be able to deal with it. You become helpless, and you have to rely on somebody for everything. It was awful to watch. Toward the end, we were just grateful. It was not the life he wanted, and we know now that he’s not in any pain and he’s in a better place.”

For Clark, the cause was personal — but she also wanted the students to know that helping others can be easy and fun. Seeing the students enjoy themselves brought a lot of joy to the staff, too, she said.