A lifelong Maryland athletics fan and alum (’93), Michael Murray accepted men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to Terp Nation. Murray, who was diagnosed with ALS less than two years ago, was selected by Turgeon to receive free tickets to Maryland’s opening game against Wagner on Nov. 14. Check out Murray’s video and more on his story below!
As a child growing up in Potomac, Md., Michael Murray never missed a Maryland men’s basketball game. He can still recall his first sports idol Len Bias effortlessly flying to the basketball hoop as he watched in awe from his television set.
Yet, despite his fervor for the Terrapins, Murray had never attended a Maryland basketball game in person.So when he came down the stairs of his home as a senior at Wootton High School to find a sleeve of 1987-88 Maryland men’s basketball season tickets from his parents, Murray could hardly contain his excitement.
“I still remember vividly opening the present in my kitchen and seeing that sheet of tickets,” Murray recalled. “It was the same feeling a little kid would experience when getting exactly the present they wanted on Christmas morning.”
Murray fondly remembers the seats being located “not even in the bowl”, but in the upper corner of legendary Cole Field House.
“But there wasn’t a bad seat in that place,” Murray laughed.
Murray attended Maryland the next fall and never missed a football or basketball game during his tenure in College Park while being a member of the Delta Chi fraternity. A resident of Dorchester Hall as a freshman, Murray remembers being able to monitor the ever-growing line outside of Cole Field House prior to games as Terrapin star Walt Williams warmed up inside.
“My room was right on the end of Dorchester, so we could look right out the window and see when people were lining up,” Murray said. “That’s when we knew to get in line for our seats.”
Flashforward 21 years and Murray has been confined to a wheelchair due to a devastating disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gherig’s Disease.
Diagnosed with ALS less than two years ago, the disease is slowly paralyzing Murray’s body. He has lost all movement in his arms, and his legs are to the point that he needs a wheelchair. Soon, Murray will lose his ability to speak, swallow and breathe as the disease takes over his body.
Loved by an inspirational wife, Dena, and two beautiful children, Matthew (8) and Madison (5), Murray filed for disability just last week – holding on to his job at a software company as long as he could for financial reasons.
Amid Murray’s personal battle with ALS, an internet trend called the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” has gone viral over the last couple of months. Started by Pete Frates, currently battling ALS as well, the videos challenge people to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads or donate to the ALS Association – all while generating notoriety for the disease.
Swept up in the cause, Murray also took part in the challenge as his children and niece, Maddie, took great joy in dousing him with cold water.
“One of the reasons I did it was to show people that this is why they’re doing the ice bucket challenge – for people like me who have ALS,” Murray said. “I wanted to show people what someone who has ALS looks like. I thought what better way than to get my kids involved and have them dump water on me which they were excited to do.”
Murray has taken part in two clinical trials in an effort to generate a better understanding of the disease in the health community, and while he acknowledges he may not be able to save his own life, he hopes that his participation may save other people in the future.
“Lou Gherig died from this disease 70 years ago, and in that time there’s basically been no advancements to finding a cure or even understanding what causes ALS,” Murray said. “The ALS Association will help fund additional research grants to help find a cure with the money generated from the ice bucket challenge.”
According to BBC.com, 2.4 million people have uploaded ice bucket-related videos on Facebook and 28 million people have uploaded, commented on or liked ice bucket-related posts. From July 29 to Aug. 28, ALS received $98.2 million compared to $2.7 million during the same time period last year.
For more information on ALS, go to www.alsa.org. Murray also has an account where you can personally donate to his family: http://www.gofundme.com/d5h6qw.