Tag Archives: Patty Haberstroh

MLB’s Lou Gehrig Day: The Local Connection

June 4 marks the 80th anniversary of the death of Lou Gehrig. The legendary New York Yankees’ 1st baseman — “The Iron Horse” — died 17 days before his 38th birthday, of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The disease now bears his name.

This June 2, all 30 Major League Baseball teams will inaugurate an annual tribute to Gehrig, and recognize the fatal illness. All players and managers will wear a patch with his #4. “4-ALS” logos will be displayed around stadiums.

MLB will use the occasion to raise money and awareness to battle the disease, and pay homage to advocacy groups like the LG4Day committee.

That group was responsible for the league-wide initiative. Co-chair of the committee was Chuck Haberstroh, the former Staples High School basketball star whose mother Patty is afflicted with ALS.

Well-known to Westporters through many activities, including her work with the Department of Human Services, Patty was diagnosed in 2017. She has inspired her family — and many others throughout town — since then.

Haberstroh, songwriter Bryan Wayne Galentine — who was also diagnosed with ALS in 2017 — and Adam Wilson spent 2 years persuading MLB to honor Gehrig with a day, as it does Black pioneer Jackie Robinson and Puerto Rican humanitarian Roberto Clemente.

Hall of Fame statues (from left): Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente.

Various teams held their own ALS Awareness Days, but Haberstroh and his group wanted more. They had to convince all 30 clubs to sign on. The breakthrough came in October, when the presidents of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins agreed to email the presidents of nearly 2 dozen teams that had not yet pledged support.

Within minutes, it was done. Sadly, Galentine died 2 days later.

Patty Haberstroh

That galvanized Haberstroh to work even harder to raise ALS awareness — along with funds to find cures and treatments. The family has already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through the #ALSPepperChallenge.

“Lou Gehrig Day will increase awareness of ALS year after year,” Haberstroh says.

“And it will give hope to those with little today — somethin Mom has always cared about as a social worker in town.

“Someone diagnosed today receives the same prognosis — 100% fatal — as Lou got over 80 years ago. That’s unacceptable.”

Word has just gotten out about the June 2 4-ALS Day. The nation will hear more about it in the months ahead.

For Chuck Haberstroh and his family, that makes every team a winner.

Click below for an ESPN SportsCenter highlight, featuring brothers Chuck and Steve Haberstroh:

Haberstrohs Help ALS Take Over Times Square

Two years ago, Patty Haberstroh was diagnosed with ALS.

She did not take the news lying down.

Neither did her family.

Together they embarked on the #ALSPepperChallenge. Across the country, people — from national celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Dan Le Batard to local ones like the Staples High School principal and first selectman — ate habaneros and jalapeños, raising nearly a million dollars to fight what is also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

In addition, 2 of Patty’s sons — Chuck and Steve — joined the IAmALS advisory board.

This morning, they rose early. With their friends — current and former Westporters Chris Aitkin, Matt Cook, Ben Erwin, Chris Kenyon, Steve O’Dell, Stacy Rosenthal and Raffi Tokatlian — they joined 150 others as IAmALS “took over” nearly a dozen billboards in Times Square.

Steve and Chuck Haberstroh, helping change the world for their mom.

Their messages brought attention to the fight — and spread the message that ALS research can also unlock critical breakthroughs for diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

Some of the messages were hopeful. Some were educational. Some were defiant.

All are crucial.

Bad weather kept Patty Haberstroh from attending the Times Square event this morning. Her husband — Parks & Recreation Commission chair Charlie Haberstroh — and daughter Kim watched the livestream at home. So did their son Tom, in Charlotte, North Carolina with his family.

Dylan Gleicher Was Always Prepared For Success

When Patty Haberstroh heard that Staples High School graduates Dylan Gleicher and Neil Soni teamed up with 2 Yale University classmates to create Prepared, an app that lets educators respond instantly to an active shooting incident — for example, quickly sending a lockdown notification to an entire school, plus local law enforcement — she was impressed.

But the program specialist in Westport’s Human Services Department was not surprised.

She remembered that a while ago Positive Youth Development — another organization she worked with — needed a website designer. They were low on funds. Member Ellen Gleicher said her son could do it, gratis.

Soon, Dylan created and launched PYD’s great site.

He was in 4th grade at the time.

Dylan Gleicher (2nd from left) created the Prepared app with (from left) Michael Chime, Neal Soni and Daniel James. They won the Miller Prize, a $25,000 in Yale University’s entrepreneurship competition. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Patty And Paul Ring The NASDAQ Bell

It’s been a year since Patty Haberstroh’s family started the Hot Pepper Challenge, to raise funds for ALS. Three months earlier, she’d been diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease.

It’s been 3 years since the Frates family first did the Ice Bucket Challenge, for the same important cause.

This morning, Patty — the energetic, creative program specialist in Westport’s Human Services Department — her family, and the Frateses, were in New York. They rang the opening NASDAQ bell, in their continuing efforts to raise both funds and awareness of ALS.

They were joined by Westporter Paul LaHiff and his family. He too has ALS (also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Also on hand: ALS Foundation members, and representatives of the company that produces the Radicava drug.

Paul LaHiff (front, left) and Patty Haberstroh (front, right), with families and friends, this morning on the NASDAQ floor.

The ceremony was televised live on CNBC. And in case anyone missed Patty with her pepper shirt — well, look here:

Patty continues to advocate for ALS causes — and treatments. Yesterday, she was interviewed by WSHU. Click here for that inspiring story.

Hot Times At Viva’s

Hot peppers and spicy margaritas are on the menu this Sunday (October 21, 1 to 5 p.m.) at Viva Zapata’s.

That’s not unusual. But the popular Mexican restaurant has added another attraction: 30% of total sales will be donated to the ALS Therapy Development Institute.

It’s Viva’s 2nd annual ALS Pepper Challenge Day. In addition to the drinks (and very hot peppers), participants can buy ALS Pepper Challenge t-shirts, hats and other gear.

Patty Haberstroh

You’ll get a chance to greet the Haberstroh family too. They started Pepper Challenge last Christmas on behalf of Patty, the well-known Westporter who is battling ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

In less than a year the movement has spread around the globe. Kelly Clarkson, Charles Barkley, Garth Brooks and Jimmy Kimmel are among the thousands of people taking the challenge. They’ve raised over $625,000 toward finding a cure.

Now you can help the ALS Pepper Challenge too. It’s no wonder Viva’s is known as one of Westport’s “hottest” restaurants.

(For more information, click here. For sponsorship and donation opportunities, email chuckhaberstroh@gmail.com.) 

How You Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On The Farm? ALS Pepper Challenge Spreads To WTF

The Haberstroh family’s #ALSPepperChallenge has spread all over the country.

But right here in Westport, it’s bearing particular fruit.

The latest group to raise money for research into the devastating disease — in honor of Department of Human Services program specialist Patty Haberstroh — is Wakeman Town Farm.

Challenged by Parks & Rec — whose commission chairman is Patty’s husband, Charlie — Liz Milwe and Christy Colasurdo decided to be creative.

Taking her cue from “Rapper’s Delight,” Christy wrote lyrics. Corey Thomas — WTF’s talented steward — showed his versatility as the rapper.

The video was filmed yesterday at the farm, after their annual team retreat. It’s already been viewed over 450 times on Instagram, and 400 times on Facebook.

Wakeman Town Farm was not the only organization in town taking the hot pepper challenge yesterday. Staples High School’s boys basketball team did the same — and were inspired by a visit from both Patty and Steve Haberstroh, a former Wrecker hoops star (and Patty and Charlie’s son).

Haberstroh noted that Jon Walker — a 1988 Staples grad, and another famed Wrecker basketball player — died last year of ALS.

Coach Colin Devine (far left) and members of the Staples High School boys basketball team take the #ALSPepperChallenge yesterday.

The Haberstrohs’ challenge has raised nearly $220,000 so far. That includes a $100,000 anonymous donation. Another $250,000 anonymous pledge is expected this week.

(Click here for the Haberstrohs’ hot pepper challenge donation page.)

Greens Farms Dares Other Elementary School: Take The ALS Pepper Challenge!

Every holiday season for years, Greens Farms Elementary School students, staff and parents have raised money to purchase gifts and necessities for needy Westport families. One of their major fundraisers is a Walk-a-Thon.

Patty Haberstroh — the Department of Human Services program specialist in charge of the town holiday giving program — has always supported the Walk-a-Thon, and all of GFS’ efforts, fully and enthusiastically.

Each year, she tells the kids how wonderful their contributions are, and how much they’re helping neighbors in need. She inspires everyone, of all ages, to do as much as they could.

Now Patty’s been diagnosed with ALS. And Greens Farms El is supporting her just as energetically as she’s done for them.

The other day, students, teachers, administrators and parents — some of whom no longer have children at the school — came together.

The event was the #ALS Pepper Challenge. Principal Kevin Cazzetta, assistant principal Christopher Breyan, phys. ed teacher Lisa Thomas, music teacher Suzanne Propp and seven parents ate hot peppers — after, of course, soliciting funds to do it. Money raised will benefit ALS research.

In the video below, parent Melissa Levy explains how much Patty means to Greens Farms. Then parent Kathryn St. Andre mentions the song the Walk-a-Thon participants always sing with Ms. Propp: “I Wish.”

The highlight comes at the end of the video. Greens Farms students challenge all the other elementary schools in town — well, the staff and parents there, anyway — to take the ALS challenge in honor of Patty.

Game on!

(Click here for the Haberstrohs’ hot pepper challenge donation page.)

Board Of Ed Takes ALS Hot Pepper Challenge

The other day, Jim Marpe took the ALS Hot Pepper Challenge.

Last night — rising to the 1st selectman’s challenge — it was the Board of Education’s turn.

Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer and the 7 board members each ate a habanero or jalapeño — at the same time pledging money for research into the devastating disease. Challenging others to do so raises even more funds.

Westport has gotten involved thanks to the Haberstroh family. Department of Human Services program specialist Patty Haberstroh was diagnosed with ALS last fall.

Board members challenged an array of prominent Westporters, including Senior Center director Sue Pfister, library director Bill Harmer, the entire Board of Finance — and Grammy/Tony/Emmy-winning songwriter Justin Paul.

Check out the video below. (Spoiler alert: It does not include the money shot — what happened after the educators ate their peppers. Hopefully, a quorum remained to conduct business.)

(Click here for the Haberstrohs’ hot pepper challenge donation page.)

Look Who’s Taking The Haberstrohs’ Hot Pepper Challenge!

When word got out that Patty Haberstroh’s family was promoting a hot pepper challenge to raise funds for ALS research, some big names responded:

Shaquille O’Neal. Charles Barkley. Domonique Foxworth. Dan Le Batard. The Miami Heat.

Now the popular Department of Human Services’ program specialist’s fellow town employees have done the same.

Yesterday 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Staples principal James D’Amico, assistant principals Jim Farnen and Rich Franzis, and former principal John Dodig gathered at Town Hall.  After a bit of banter, they all ate eye-tearing, sinus-clearing, unfathomably hot habaneros.

It was not easy. But they did it for Patty.

And when they were done, they challenged others to do the same.

D’Amico dared the Staples science department (whose chair grows his own peppers). Farnen challenged the Staples athletic department (which includes me, as Staples boys soccer coach — yikes!). Dodig named the guidance department.

Marpe topped them all. He dared the entire Board of Education — and superintendent of schools Colleen Palmer — to eat a habanero or jalapeño.

Videos will be posted soon.

But don’t laugh too hard. We may challenge you next.

(Click here for the Haberstrohs’ hot pepper challenge donation page. Video by Justin Nadal, Staples High School media lab instructor.)

BONUS VIDEO: Check out this new video. It features plenty of celebrities — and tons of Westporters too. And after you click on — please keep the ALS Pepper Challenge going!

Haberstrohs’ Hot Pepper Challenge Picks Up Steam

Everyone in Westport knows Patty Haberstroh. The energetic, creative and deeply committed family programs specialist for the town’s Human Services Department ensures that our neediest neighbors get the resources they deserve — and that those of us with the ability to help get a chance to do so.

Patty Haberstroh

Patty’s husband Charlie is embedded in town too: He chairs the Parks and Recreation Commission. Patty’s sons starred on Staples High School sports teams, and retain strong ties to their hometown.

So when Patty was diagnosed 3 months ago with ALS, they did what the Haberstroh family always does: got together, and got to work.

The result is the #ALSPepperChallenge. It’s like the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge — except much, much hotter.

The idea is to eat a hot pepper — habanero or jalapeno — on camera. You’re filmed making a pledge to  help find a cure. Then you nominate someone (or many others) to do the same.

A project like this needs a kick start. Patty’s son Tom — a longtime ESPN basketball writer — was just the man. His sports and media connections pushed the #ALSPepperChallenge into overdrive.

Since Christmas, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley have eaten peppers — and raised funds. So have Domonique Foxworth, Dan Le Batard and the Miami Heat.

Oh, yeah: The Staples boys basketball team is doing it too.

Media giants like USA Today and People magazine covered Patty’s #ALSPepperChallenge.

“I’d never eaten a habanero, and I never want to again. But I’ll eat it a thousand more times if it means my mother and others living with ALS can kick this horrible disease,” Tom told People.

“There is no effective treatment for ALS. There is no cure. Anything we can do to change that, we’re going to try.”

(If you’re wondering: Why hot peppers? There are few things that make you feel more alive than eating one.)

Patty has been buoyed by support from friends, her sons’ and daughter’s friends, and complete strangers.

The average life span after diagnosis is 3 to 5 years. “I’m fighting against time here,” Patty said.

“I pray that these hot pepper eaters are raising enough money to find a cure for me and others before it’s too late.”

Anyone who knows Patty Haberstroh — and in Westport, that’s all of us — knows she is not sitting back, feeling sorry for herself.

She told People: “The adage to live each day fully has never rung more true to me. I’m saying to people that I’m lucky in that you often wish in a memorial service that the person who has passed away could hear the wonderful things being said about them. I am reading and seeing those things said while I’m very much here!”

The accolades will continue.

As will the hot pepper-eating, video-making and fundraising — in Westport, and around the world.

(For more information — and the donation page — click here.)