Minnesota boxing legend Scott LeDoux faced world champion Muhammad Ali in the ring in 1977. Today, LeDoux is fighting an even fiercer opponent—amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the neurodegenerative illness also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“Boxing is a physical fight,” says LeDoux. “ALS is an emotional fight.”
LeDoux and his wife, Carol, called for support of University of Minnesota research in ALS and other brain, nerve, and muscle disorders at the 2010 Diamond Awards in January.
The event—a team effort of the Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center (an affiliate of the Minnesota Medical Foundation), Minnesota Twins, and Twin Cities chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America—holds a special meaning for the LeDouxs.
One day many years ago, after Scott LeDoux had lost a fight, he went to the locker room and put a towel over his head. He felt terrible. Soon the locker room became quiet, and he lifted the towel covering his face.
“Nobody else was there except for Bob Allison,” LeDoux says.
LeDoux asked Allison why he hadn’t left like everyone else. Allison told him that people don’t need friends when they’re winning. “He said, ‘people need people after they lose a game,’” LeDoux recalls.
That special connection with Allison is just one of the reasons the LeDouxs have become advocates for neurodegenerative disease research at the University. Another is LeDoux’s neurologist, John Day, M.D., Ph.D., who is also a researcher. The LeDouxs hope that raising awareness and funding for the University’s innovative work will knock out these devastating diseases for good.
“We’re here because we hope, and we’re here to help those without hope,” Carol LeDoux says. “The importance of research is vital.”