If you’re not familiar with Jeff’s story, his battle against Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), and his inspiring work with children, you can read it here.
Jeff stayed for two tapings of the show — the episode with Denzel Washington airing Friday, November 2 and the episode with Julie Bowen from Modern Family on Monday, November 5. Jeff passed up an opportunity to meet Simon Cowell, Brittney Spears, and the cast of the X-Factor to see a second episode of Ellen. He danced, laughed, cheered, and had an unforgettable time.
We met with Andy Lassner, the Executive Producer of Ellen after the show and pitched Jeff’s story to him — the purpose of our visit. He is going to review it and make a decision. In the meantime, if we’re going to make this happen for Jeff and all the people he will inspire, we need to continue to pool our efforts and creativity to help make his dream of appearing on the show come true. It’s a monumental task given the number of requests they receive. Please share your ideas (i.e. perhaps Jeff’s kids at the JCC could make a video about Jeff and send it to Ellen). We need something emotional and powerful that sends the message. Since we know this is Jeff’s destiny, we can’t stop until we get it done.
Do you need additional motivation? Jeff doesn’t want anything as a guest on the show — not a car, no money, no trips, no help with bills, nothing at all even though his medical expenses continue to stack up and will only get more challenging as his disease progresses. All he wants to do, in his own words, is “get on the show so I can tell Ellen what she means to me, raise awareness about how to live with ALS, and inspire people to stay positive in life.”
The good news is that Ellen filmed two shows and we were the only guests invited to stay for the second show. Unfortunately, Jeff did not get to meet Ellen because she was so busy preparing for back to back shows. It didn’t deter him though. It only fueled him as it should all of us to make sure it happens in the near future.
Jeff can’t shake your hand, give you a hug, play basketball, dress himself, or hold a drink. He has lost a lot — more than most of us can probably imagine — and yet he continues to remain grateful for everything he can still do. I wish you could see what a process it is for me just to change his shirt. It would break your heart but it would also inspire you to go to great lengths for him. His life is not easy yet he continues to live it with grace and optimism. In the year since his diagnosis with a disease doctors say will end his life, I’ve never heard him complain once. That is a demonstration of strength and gratitude beyond comprehension. He still has his heart and mind and he is using both every day. Thank you all for your continued support of our favorite brother, friend, neighbor, coach, mentor, son, uncle, counselor, and selfless hero for the cause of ALS, Jeff Fogel.
*If you live in South Florida, please consider attending a special event in Jeff’s honor on December 13 in Miami. Click here for more details.
Andrew Kirschner, Ed.D., is the founder and CEO of Animal Rescue Bar, a delicious plant-based snack for health-conscious people that donates 50% of its proceeds to non-profit animal rescue and advocacy organizations. To subscribe to this blog and receive new articles via e-mail, enter your e-mail address in the “Follow Blog by E-Mail” link at the top right of the page.