A worthy cause

Patrick Newell

Less than two weeks ago, I learned that Terry Hagenbuch, a physical education teacher at Norwich High School, was competing in the Lake Placid Ironman Triathlon. His motivation was not simply the extreme physical challenge, but to bring awareness and raise money for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).
If you’re somewhat unfamiliar with ALS, perhaps you have heard the term, “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” Although the disease’s origins date back to 1869, it was 70 years later, in 1939, when the nation learned one of its sports heroes was stricken with the devastating – and ultimately fatal – disease.
Gehrig died two years after his abrupt retirement, and to this day, there is no known cure, and very few treatment options. In the past decade, some new medications have proven to extend the life of those afflicted with ALS. Still, in all but a few cases, contracting the disease is a slow death sentence.
Hagenbuch got his start at Norwich High School 13 years ago when he was hired by then Director of Athletics, Jack Jones, and former principal Jim Walters. A Norwich High School alumni, it meant everything to Hagenbuch to return to his alma mater.
The start of Hagenbuch’s employment at Norwich High School also began his association with Jones, an old-school-plain-talking-say-what-you-mean-mean-what-you-say type of administrator. And that was perfectly fine with Hagenbuch, who, as anyone who knows him, is a no-nonsense type of teacher.
Jones retired from Norwich High School nearly a decade ago, but has subsequently served multiple interim stints as the school’s AD. In 2003, Jones was diagnosed with ALS, and after several years battling the disease, is wheelchair-bound and has lost the use of his arms and legs.
Jones is revered and respected by anyone who had the opportunity to work with him, and his influence runs particularly deep with Hagenbuch.
Next week, we will feature a story on Hagenbuch’s endeavor in which he will compete in the Lake Placid Triathlon on July 26 and raise money for the Blazeman Foundation in honor of Jones. Anyone interested in making a donation can go online to Hagenbuch’s website at www.active.com/donate/teamblazeman/blazemanTHagenb or call Hagenbuch at 336-3707 to make a contributions. All funds collected on Hagenbuch’s website go toward the Blazeman Foundation to fund ALS research.