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On Lou Gehrig day, Rochester remembers his impact

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Wednesday marks 80 years since Lou Gehrig's passing from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the disease he was diagnosed with and treated for at Rochester's Mayo Clinic.

"He came to Rochester and received this diagnosis, very rare at that time. Mayo issued a press release which we did not do at that time," said Matthew Dacy, director of Mayo Clinic Heritage Hall.

ALS is often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease.

"Mayo is highly team-oriented, and in fact, Mayo Clinic and the city of Rochester became Lou Gehrig's team. He came here not knowing why he was experiencing such sudden and profound weakness. He received a difficult diagnosis but he had the support of the clinic and the community to help him through that process," said Dacy.

Gehrig spent his final days playing baseball, coaching, and catching up with locals at Rochester's Soldiers Field Park. He would spend his nights at the Kahler Grand Hotel downtown. Even though he was here for a short time, Gehrig's presence in the community was felt.

"The fact that he was diagnosed here sort of shows the rich history that exists within our region particularly as it relates to healthcare," said Ryan Stauff, vice president of the ALS Association in Minnesota.

As for the ongoing fight against ALS, there is still much work to be done.

"Research gives you hope that there'll be a better outcome for ourselves and for those who come after us," said Dacy.

"The same experience that Lou Gehrig had is an experience that many still face today," said Stauff. "We know that the incredidly supportive community that exists not only in this region but across the country will help us get there."

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Noah Caplan

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