Skip to main content

Water Cooler: Tackling ALS

Last week, before the Lehigh/Princeton game, I stopped in to check on a friend, who just happened to be at the Rust Pavillion.

FB Brett Snyder, a hero of mine, was there to raise some funds for his ongoing effort to beating ALS, a disease he was diagnosed with nine years ago.

Never one to shy away from challenges on the football field, after being given only 18 months to live eight years ago, Brett never gave up, and today he's still fighting.  I was thrilled to be just a very small part of the celebration and fundraiser this past Saturday.

When then-head coach Pete Lembo broke the news to me and other members of the Lehigh football family, and it was a complete shock.

As a fullback on some of Lehigh's greatest football teams, he truly set the gold standard for other Lehigh fullbacks to aspire to become.  As much for his offensive contribution, his physical play and his blocking downfield paved the way for others to have amazing football careers at Lehigh as well, allowing QB Phil Stambaugh and a host of other Lehigh athletes to have spectacular college football careers, and cultivating excitement in terms of I-AA playoff wins as well.

"Unfortunately in 2003, Brett was diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease," Brett's former teammate, WR Kody Fedorcha, wrote in the invite to the tailgate.  "ALS is a disease with no known cure that causes a progressive degeneration of the motor neurons (causing the muscles in a patient to atrophy).   Brett was given 18 months to live based on the averages but 8 years later Brett continues to battle.   Early on, because Brett's health still allowed him to participate in most clinical trials, we started the Tackle ALS Foundation that focused on raising money for research and raising awareness for disease that only affects 1 in 50,000 Americans. 

"As the years passed, Brett's challenges changed to facing the most basic tasks at home.  These challenges carry a cost that is not just physical and not always covered by insurance, such as home modifications to accommodate a wheel chair, treatments not acknowledged by insurance providers, etc...   In short, we cannot fight Brett's battle versus ALS but donations can ensure he is focused strictly on beating this disease."

It's worth pausing and thinking about the amount of money some of these modifications cost - something that's not done often enough these days.  Like buying special cars, for example, to allow for wheelchair access, which can cost more than $30,000 or more.  Or retrofitting a house to make everything wheelchair-accessible.  Health insurance covers some of these costs, but not all.

That's why Brett, Kody, Rich Knupp of the Lehigh Athletic Partnership and myself were at the Rust Pavillion last weekend, enjoying the Snyder family, Brett's son, Tate, and the smiles from folks that were able to come out and show Brett his support.

And I was glad to see Brett smiling as well, ready to indulge in one of his passions that day - Lehigh football, of course, on a perfect day for Mountain Hawk football. 

Last year's fundraiser for the Snyder family raised over $10,000 for their cause, and even though the tailgate is over, I'd encourage that it not stop you from donating to the Snyder family to make sure that Brett is able to continue to fight ALS, and not worry about all the other stuff.  I'm a proud donor to this cause, and I'm hoping that other people will do the same.

Contact me at this blog, or Rich Knupp with the Athletics Partnership (, for information on how to donate.


Popular posts from this blog

Nick Shafnisky Is Pushing Hard to Get To Play at the Next Level in Football

"Don't take anything for granted, just keep pushing."
Those are the words of QB Nick Shafnisky, told to The Whitehall-Coplay Press all the way back in 2013, about his preparation as a high school athlete.
And they seem to summarize the Whitehall, PA native perfectly, then as now.
Dubbed the "Male Athlete of the Year" by that publication, the article goes on about Shaf's many exploits at Whitehall high school - leading the Zephyr football team to a co-Lehigh Valley Conference title, becoming the first player ever in that conference to rush and pass for over 1,000 yards, and earning the league's co-MVP award as well.
He also was a member of the Zephyrs playoff basketball team, and for good measure also helped set a record for the 4x100 relay team as well.
At Whitehall, and at Lehigh, coaches pushed him, but it was his own hard work that helped make him the best athlete he could be.
This weekend, Shaf, like every eligible college football player, will be …

#TheRivalry Flashback: November 21st, 1987: Lehigh 17, Lafayette 10

Since becoming an undergrad at Lehigh back in the late 1980s, I first heard about the historic nature of the football team and "The Rivalry" through the stories that fellow students would share.

I did not attend the final meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette at Taylor Stadium, which was the final time a football game would be played there.

Those that did attend said that was that it was cold.

"I remember it being one of the coldest games ever," Mark Redmann recollected, "with strong Northwesterly winds and the temperature hovering around 20.  By the end of the game, the stands were half empty because most of the fans just couldn't take the cold.

"Fortunately, several of my fraternity brothers snuck in flasks to help fend off the chill."

Dominick Bragalone Goes Into Monster Mode As Lehigh Is One Win Away From Title

It has been a most unusual season for Lehigh.

Starting the year off at 0-5 and getting swept in their out-of-conference schedule, the Mountain Hawks were in danger of having their season go off the rails.

But two things have come together over the last five football games that have put Lehigh on the brink of back-to-back championships.

The first is the late blooming of the Lehigh defense, which kept battling every week since the low point of the September 30th loss to Wagner to do the job in four of their five Patriot League conference games. 

The second is the development of junior RB Dominick Bragalone into a bellcow running back, a back who has to be in the conversation for Patriot League offensive player of the year.

In five Patriot League games, Bragalone has run for 863 yards in 5 games, rushing for 11 touchdowns and adding two more receiving touchdowns as well. 

The South Williamsport, PA native certainly wasn't unknown before this week - after all, as a freshman and a sop…