Emails can deliver every degree of news: good, bad, or a compliment, criticism, and sometimes an inquiry that changes or enhances a life. That happened in the late spring of 2010. I had met Mike Ramirez and Greg Sacks at the ALS Association’s Golf Classic fundraiser and soon after received an email request from them: Could I help them — two grown men, best friends, and baseball nuts — get down on the Padres field to do anything, just to be there? It was part of Mike’s Bucket List. He had been diagnosed with the fatal Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I could make that happen but I wanted to do a story on the experience for our pre-game show.
With the help of the Padres head groundskeeper, Luke Yoder, the guys were on the field pulling hoses and pushing rakes. Mike needed to take a few breaks, as his body wasn’t as robust as before, but he was happy to be there and share his story.
Watch the two segments on this page to see their experience and hear from their hearts. Take note of Mike’s conviction to live life every day, to make his bucket list, and check things off. I helped my own father do this some twenty years ago when he had the same diagnosis. It’s amazing how fulfilling it can be to follow through with such lists, dreams and requests.
Here’s Part 1
After the stories aired, Mike sent me an email. I included it in my book, page 638, but here is part of it to ponder.
“Jane, Saying thank you doesn’t even come close to telling you how much I appreciate the story you and Channel 4 did last night on Greg and me. I am humbled and honored to be featured in such a professional and moving production… I feel strongly God wants me to use my resources to raise awareness of ALS and raise money to help find a cure. I know He has been working through you as well… Last night’s segment, and part two to follow, will go a long way to fulfilling that mission. It has been a year since I was diagnosed and I have had the opportunity to focus and recognize the many blessings in my life, like family and friends… Peace, your friend, Michael.”
Mike passed away in April 2012, surrounded by his family and friends. I attended his memorial service – a packed Catholic church in Encinitas complete with tributes, faith, and Santana songs, his favorite artist. The gathering acknowledged his admirable character and celebrated the life of a man who embraced every moment of his time here. A message at the service: for us ALL to remember to make the most of every day. Life is a gift, and it’s up to us to unwrap it, share, and give back.
A toast at the reception underscored something his friends valued, too. Mike didn’t just say, “Let’s get together for dinner sometime.” He picked the restaurant, ordered the limo and told the invited guests to be ready — they were going to dinner that night! It’s a snapshot of Mike’s gift and legacy: having a Bucket List… and acting on his To Do List… nurturing friendships, included.
For more on Mike’s story and ALS awareness, get Jane’s book on KINDLE or at the One on One STORE on this site.
Here’s Part 2