Lou Gehrig meets his match (For Marty)


Bittersweet is a word that has so many meanings to me right now. This week I had a chance to see cousins I haven't seen in ages. I got to hug the Uncle who is and was the only living sibling of my dearly departed father. This week I was in a room filled with people I resemble - the sturdy German stock we all are, and the ones that all share that funny "how the hell do you pronounce it" last name..........and this week I paid respects to one cousin I will never see again. I will never hear him introduce me as his "only first cousin" ever again. I will never have a chance to look at him smile...and see my dad in his grin. This week I, along with many, said a final goodbye to a man who changed lives, made an impact in the battle of a disease that taunts it's victims....this week my cousin, Martin (Marty) Woywod, closed his eyes one last time at the young age of 45.

Marty leaves behind two loving parents...my Uncle George and my Aunt Kathy..

He will now always be a loving memory for 5 siblings...Mary, Debbie, Jimmy, George, and Matthew...

His wife Anne will raise their two small children (ages 7 and 5) and be able to look into their eyes and see the man she loved, and be reminded of their time together even though he will no longer be at her side...

On top of the loving family Marty has left behind.. is something that not many people do...Marty leaves behind a legacy that will continue on in his memory...awareness for and a battle against Lou Gehrig's Disease formally known as ALS.

Unfortunately I moved away from Illinois just a couple of years before Marty was diagnosed, so I wasn't able to witness firsthand all the work he did on behalf of ALS awareness. But from what I followed through the years doing Google searches, and after seeing it for my own eyes at his wake....he was an advocate that never gave up....he used his life..his own suffering..as a lesson for others, and he did so in style...with class...always with a smile and knowing the Marty I once knew...always cracking a joke to lighten the mood ..

A few examples...............

I was diagnosed with ALS in September of 2004. In October, Jim and I attended our first Les Turner Foundation support group and met a man who would change my life.


As I struggled to make sense of a disease that could rob three small children of their mom, I listened and learned from Marty Woywod that one way to make sense of this disease was to spend the rest of my life trying to defeat it.

I vividly remember looking across the table at Marty as he talked about his public role and thinking, “I could never do that.” It didn’t take long for Marty to convince me that I had no choice but to do that.


Thank you, Marty, for your tireless efforts and for inspiring me, my family, and so many others to join the fight.




Others saw his strength and determination...his selflessness and were inspired to give back to him and his family...

The second annual Charity Challenge will be held on August 15, 2009. This year the proceeds will benefit the Woywod family. Marty Woywod is 45 years old and resides in Indian Head Park with his wife, Anne and their 2 children, Augie and Maggie. Seven years ago Marty was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Shorty after being diagnosed Marty found he was unable to continue working. He met this adjustment by using his time to become an active advocate for ALS helping others understand and fight this progressive disease. Now confined to a wheelchair and electric bed, Marty must rely on Anne and his children to aid with his day to day needs. He can no longer play catch with Augie or hold Maggie, he can’t walk on the beach with Anne. Nonetheless, his physical limitations have not beaten his spirit. He continues to feel blessed for the gift of the time he has with his family, he continues to coach and counsel others. Despite his inspiring outlook and postive presence, financial burdens are a reality for this family.

Reaching out was his mission...
Sponsored by the Parent Teacher Council of District 106, the “Hollywood Variety Show” on
January 13 and 14 featured students who danced, sang, played instruments and wowed the crowd with their many talents. The shows attracted 900 people and raised $2,500 for the Les Turner ALS Foundation. ALS patient Marty Woywod spoke to the audience about ALS and the special events and services offered by the Foundation. We thank the Woywod’s neighbor, Maureen Blaber, for nominating the Foundation as the show’s beneficiary

Marty inspired youth to think about ALS... http://www.download-document.com/ODAY_281384

“Cookbooks for a Cause” on Sale Although they are only in elementary school, third-grader Mackenzie Powell and fifth-grader Breanne Taylor fully understand the importance of helping others. With assistance from Roxanne Pasquinelli, a teacher at Longfellow Elementary School in Oak Park, the girls have compiled “Cooking for a Cause,” and are selling these cookbooks to help raise funds for the Les Turner ALS Foundation. Mackenzie created this idea after learning about her grandfather’s friend, Marty Woywod, who has been living with ALS since 2003. Cookbooks are $5 each. To order a copy, contact the Foundation office at 847-679-3311.


Always thinking about how to support others, while receiving support in return...

Evergreen Park Support Group
Before being diagnosed with ALS, Marty Woywod knew very little about the
disease and how it would affect his life. Since that time, he and his family
have educated themselves about the disease by researching it online,
talking with healthcare professionals and other families, and involving themselves
in support groups.
“The relationships developed in the support groups provide me and my wife with
strength,” explained Woywod. “It feels good knowing there are other people who
understand our challenges and are there to help.”

There are more examples out there on Google of the work Marty did in the name of the disease that would end up taking his young life from a family that loved him dearly.......

But...one thing I know for sure is how proud I know our grandparents and my father must have been as they watched over him from above during his journey of strength and courage...

I can hear my Grandfather saying..."Yes, that's right..we're Aus Prussians! Woywods are leaders!"

I know my father, who was very much like Marty...a man with a heart as big as it can grow, and a sense of humor that fed it.....I know he watched over Marty with a tear in his eye, and a grin on his face while saying..."Don't let anything stop ya!"

And I know they are now all together waiting to cheer on the next round of Woywod leaders who won't let any obstacle trip and keep them down.............and this time Marty will be there in the rooting section ...

Yes, while I am saddened that I never got a chance to say goodbye before he closed his eyes for the last time, I am at the same time so very proud to say..."Yup...I am proud to not have only known him, but also I am the only one who can say I was his 1st cousin!"

Rest in peace Marty..................

For more information on ALS please go to the Les Turner Foundation





Comments

Anne Woywod said…
Thanks Eva, what a beautiful tribute. Love, Anne
Ed said…
beautiful words, memories, and family. It was a hard couple days but a really beautiful goodbye to a really beautiful man. Thanks for putting his hard work into perspective.
Eva Marie said…
Anne you are a remarkable woman who married a remarkable man - there's no doubt in my mind that Marty found the strength he had to do all he did because he had you by his side...

As I told you at the wake...CALL ME if you need anything - even an ear.
Karen said…
I echo Ed's sentiment. While my heart is hurting, I find continued comfort that I am one of the lucky ones to have had Marty as a friend and really a part of our family.
Karen G.
Anne Woywod said…
Hi there,
I know this must sound kind of weird to you, but just the same it hits me. I am Anne Woywod, too, but living in Europe, with two children, aged 5 and 7.... My husband was diagnosed with a life threatining disease in 2005 but thanks to a miracle survived. I realised I had an american name mate before, but I never knew there were more similarities.
I thoroughly hope Anne has had all the support and family as well as friends around her since January - my deepest thoghts are with her across the ocean. Will you please pass this on, Eva?

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