To most of us, the great liberal icon stricken with a terrible ailment is Ted Kennedy. Kennedy's contributions to our nation's uneven pursuit of progressive ideals are amazing and well known.
The work of another great liberal icon stricken by disease is not so well known, but quite amazing in its own right. My former professor, Steve Gey of Florida State University's College of Law, is an
exceptional person in every respect.
Many people came to know Professor Gey as a result of the 2000 Florida recount, when he provided trenchant analysis for ABC News. Law students across the country use his standard text on the First
Amendment. Professor Gey is one of the most distinguished constitutional law scholars in the country, and his analysis of the law of free speech and freedom of religion is the starting point for
any serious student.
To be part of a more exclusive and privileged fraternity is to have experienced Professor Gey's teaching first hand. This Youtube video provides only the slightest glimpse, but will still inspire and
motivate all but the most callow.
A Gey lecture is a speeding locomotive that hits every small town with lightning fast cutbacks. (Locomotive may be the wrong analogy since Gey is nothing if not limber and swift in his lectures and, more of a car man himself, is known to observe whenever some idiotic official violates someone's
civil rights that they must be consumed with a burning desire to "buy me a new German car.")
A Gey lecture provides all the essentials of a well-performed law school lecture, but whereas most law professors build the infrastructure of their lecture with all the grace of an elephant working on a high-rise, Gey's lectures are spritely, nimble, and adorned with the kind of detail that makes you laugh quickly and stop laughing just as quickly so that you don't miss the next insight. He's the best.
In 2006, Professor Gey's students and friends were devastated to learn that he had been afflicted with ALS, popularly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The disease is gradually taking Gey's bodily functions, but not his wit, as his own observations on the progress of the accursed
ALS is a wasting disease. Anyone with ALS soon becomes like the Black Knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail, with no arms and no legs, and no ability to move or to act on the world. The only thing we can hope for is to retain the Black Knight's ability to curse our condition and everything it represents. As the limbless Black Knight said to King Arthur, "Come back here and take what's coming to you! I'll bite your legs off!"
Professor Gey's response to tragedy is pretty amazing. Almost as amazing is what friends and students did in response. Led by Atlanta attorney Kristie Klein, a former Gey research assistant and organizer for Democratic politicians, including Bill Bradley, a group of brave folks competes in what Professor Gey refers to as "suicide-by-triathlon" each year at Red Hills in Tallahassee, Florida to raise
awareness and money in order to end the scourge of ALS.
Last year, the brave and foolhardy participants raised over $60, 000 for research on ALS. Since the "Tri-for-Gey" is all about defying the odds--as Gey observes in his self-pitiless letter to friends and
tri-athletes--" statistically speaking, most ALS patients die within three years of the onset of symptoms," the tri-athletes have set a goal for this year of $150, 000. All of the money will be donated for research on the fight against ALS.
The triathlon is tomorrow. This is where you, gentle reader, can make a difference. If each of you make a contribution of just $5, well, that would be like thirty bucks! I firmly believe that people generally do not give because they are concerned that their contribution is too small. But in this case, $5 (or if you would, some amount ending in .88 so it can be tracked), with the power of numbers, would make a great and significant difference. Please donate to one or more of the wonderful crazy people below and you will not only have a stake in their struggle, but also in Professor Gey's struggle, and in
the battle against ALS.
As Professor Gey wrote, "fatal diseases are a bummer, but more importantly, people's responses to fatal diseases make the human race look downright respectable."
Dave Bear is a friend and former head of the Federalist Society at Florida State University. His scholarly work has been delivered at the Austrian Society and cited by the Cato Institute. If you're a conservative but want to show that you are part of the fight against ALS, he's your man.
Kristie Klein is the steel of this group, turning her talents as a political organizer to the herding cats nature of making a group like this work. Please support her.
Karen Sandrik is the dynamic former college soccer player that personifies girl power. She's a conservative Christian who disagrees with practically every article she's helped Professor Gey with as his research assistant. You have to admire that. A good choice for anyone who wants to let our tri-athletes know that God truly helps those who help themselves.
Or you can simply donate to the group as a whole.