When I first joined Twitter it wasn’t for camaraderie, I wasn’t anonymous, but I also didn’t seek out people I knew. I followed sports media, comedians, people who thought they were both, and the president. While I would occasionally tweet back and forth with Henry Schulman and TJ Quinn, there was no one on Twitter I would consider a friend. With the Giants losing 99 games, the bowl headed idiot moving the Raiders to Vegas, and the deterioration of our nation’s executive and legislative branches Twitter became less important to me and I would go days and weeks sometimes without opening the app. That changed when I started listening to and getting involved with (wait for it) The Break It Down Show. When I started following the Show, Pete, and Jon I started interacting with a whole new group of people. I’d get involved in a discussion about music and look at my phone an hour later and there would be hundreds of Twitter Notifications. One of the people that was always involved in those discussions was Phil Green. Never the most vocal, but he was always involved, liking tweets, offering positive comments, just generally being a nice guy. At some point Phil followed my Twitter account, and I, having recently eschewed my long held 75 following limit, followed him back.
Following Phil on Twitter a couple things soon became clear, we both love music and our families and Phil is also very proud of his Washington Husky heritage. I guess being a part of two Rose Bowls and one National Championship Team can have that effect (this would be where the director cuts to the Cal grads in the audience as they scratch their heads wondering “how is that even possible?”). Like me Phil has been active in the album fights, judging several, doing the Michael Buffer style prefight ring announcements, and lately doing the accompanying artwork, all of which are awesome. Phil and I have never judged the same album fight (something that I hope changes soon), and never been in the same room. I had a chance to meet up with him and Pete for dinner a month or so back, but I had another commitment (which turned out to have been cancelled, seriously ticking me off). The last few months I have noticed that Phil has sprinkled in some likes and retweets from Steve Gleason, I didn’t think much of it, knowing that Steve Gleason is an inspiration to many people.
On today’s Break It Down Show (click here to listen) the reason for those tweets became much clearer. Phil has been diagnosed with ALS. I don’t know much about ALS. I know Lou Gehrig, Stephen Hawking, Catfish Hunter, Steve Gleason. I have a poster signed by Bo Jackson as part of a fundraiser for his former teammate Steve Smith. Unfortunately the medical community doesn’t know a whole heck of a lot more. They are certainly trying, new tests and treatments are in the works, and warriors like Phil are doing whatever they can, offering their bodies to help. I’m not going to describe what Phil is going through, I’m going to ask you to listen to him, he does a great job of telling his story. The struggles he’s faced so far, the reality he knows is coming, and his desire to not only have experiences with his family while he can, but to also network with his friends and community to help others that are facing the same thing. About 16 minutes in he says the one thing I’ve known all along “I’m a positive person,” and he’s using that to try and help the cause.
In addition to working with Steve Gleason, and other ALS enterprises Phil has created a non-profit of his own, Make A Difference against ALS (MADALS.org coming soon) and is starting a Podcast featuring other ALS Warriors, tentatively called I Am ALS. The Break It Down Show titled todays episode “Courage in the Face of ALS.” That title is accurate, and describes Phil’s quest perfectly, but it’s about more than just ALS. Thankfully most of us will not be afflicted with ALS, but everyone has their own struggles and situations. Listening to Phil’s story and others like his should serve as a message to all of us that we can stay positive and move forward. In Stuart Scott’s ESPY speech a few years back he said, “When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.” Phil is proving that with ALS, and we can all use that in our own lives.