Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

SIDE STREETS: Uber volunteer turns attention to disease attacking his body

BILL VOGRIN Updated: August 12, 2009 at 12:00 am

Folks who know Dave La Rue are nodding now and wondering why it took so long for Side Streets to profile him. For the rest of you, meet Dave.

He is one of the best guys you could ever meet.

Just ask the people lucky enough to have had their children play soccer on a team he coached. Or basketball, or baseball or any sport his son, Aleksei, 15, played.

Ask people who saw Dave and his wife, Lisa, work at bingo fundraisers for their daughter, Mariah, 18, and her swim teams.

Or ask teachers at Foothills Elementary School, where he volunteered.

Or ask Side Streets, a personal witness to Dave’s good works in Colorado Springs for nearly 10 years.

Dave is a stay-at-home dad who rarely was at home because he was always helping, giving his time and energy to various groups.

Today there’s a new group enjoying Dave’s time and energy. It’s called the Spirit of the Springs, part of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the ALS Association.

That’s right. Dave has ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a fatal, degenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

You may know it as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” named for the iron man of the New York Yankees known for playing through pain and injuries in a legendary career. He retired abruptly July 4, 1939, because of ALS, famously calling himself the “luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Like Gehrig, Dave has been the iron man anchoring countless carpools for friends and neighbors. He’s the guy everyone turned to when coaches quit, or a team needed a Web site or to raise money for jerseys.

And, like Gehrig, Dave is raising attention — and, he hopes, money — to fight ALS.

On Sept. 12, Dave will participate in Denver’s Walk to Defeat ALS as a member of the Spirit of the Springs team. (See Dave, the team and links on my blog.)

In typical Dave La Rue fashion, he is throwing everything he has at the fight. He’s highlighting ALS, its effects on him, new devices and research advances on a Web site he created.

Most important in the battle is raising money. At last year’s walk, he raised more than $3,000 and the Spirit of the Springs team raised about $17,000 — the most of any team. He’s determined to raise even more this year. In addition, he’s supporting the MDA Labor Day Telethon and its ALS division.

And like Gehrig, Dave said he feels like a lucky man.

“I can appreciate that,” he said through his iPhone, which does his talking for him these days. “I would not change anything in my life. I am lucky to have such a supportive wife and family and great friends, too.”

For once, Dave is wrong. We are the lucky ones.

See photos and links on my blog at
gazette.com/blogs/sidestreets

 

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