Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis
Michael Gollin
August 22, 2017

Recently, comedian Jerry Lewis passed away. In addition to his comedy, he was the national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and a regular host of their telethons. He did many great things to help people with ALS, muscular dystrophy, and related illnesses. I would like to share a quote from him that explains his dedication to the cause:

“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” – Jerry Lewis

The MDA helped me as a graduate student with a grant to study fruit fly flight muscles. That was a stretch from studying human muscles, but they were creative with their research program. They helped me even more recently with their three wheelchairs and Hoyer lift. They also funded the ALS clinic I go to at JHU.

I avoided his comedy and his telethons when I was younger, but I am grateful to Jerry Lewis now.

Michael Gollin video interview
April 2013

We just uploaded these videos to YouTube. It’s nice to remember being able to stand and talk back then.  My current psyche was already formed. My first blog post was the same month.

The interview was recorded at MDA’s 2013 Scientific Conference, held April 21-24, 2013, in Washington, D.C.  The title was Therapy Development for Neuromuscular Diseases: Translating Hope Into Promise.

List of questions and videos:

1. What is your job and background?
2. How did you learn you had ALS?
3. What ALS clinic do you attend?
4. Do you think it is ironic that you researched muscles under an MDA grant in graduate school and you are now involved with MDA again, 35 years later?
5. What led you to attend this conference?
6. What’s it like to live with ALS?
7. How has your background affected the way you have dealt with the disease?
8. What do you think about MDA’s impact?
Do you have any final comments?

Michael Gollin MDA Interview Question 1:
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Michael Gollin MDA Video Interview

At the Finish Line

At the Finish Line

An unofficial transcript from Wireless News Service™

FALMOUTH – August 17, 2014. Hi, I’m Nina Murrow, Pulitzer Prize-winning vacation journalist. I’m speaking with Michael and Max Gollin, a handsome father-son team that just finished a grueling 7 mile Massachusetts beachfront road race. Gentlemen, how do you feel?

Michael: Fantastic! I hardly broke a sweat.

Max: I think I’m gonna die.

Nina: That’s terrific! Is this your first time running the Falmouth Road Race?

Max: This makes five for me.

Michael: This is my sixth year participating, and now I’m on a roll.

Nina: Wait, what? How was your time this year?

Michael: It’s the first time I finished ahead of Max since our first 5k five years ago.

Max: I felt like I was pushing as hard as I could but he was always a few feet ahead of me.

Nina: What would you say was the hardest part of the race this year?

Max: I’m gonna have to say the hills and the humidity. And the hand grips.

Michael: For me it was waking up at 5:45, but after that I took it pretty easy.

Nina: And how would you say this compares to last year?

Max: Well my pace last year was in the 7 minute mile range but this year I fell back to around 10 even though I felt like I put in more effort.

Michael: For me, finishing around a 10 minute mile was outstanding, especially considering that I was the last guy across the finish line last year, over 18 minutes per mile.

Nina: What a huge accomplishment! To what do you attribute your great success?

Michael: It was all teamwork and technique. And equipment.

Max: The thousands of screaming fans didn’t hurt either.

Michael: I agree. I feel like I had my best rapport with the crowd this year. I had a lot of freedom to interact with the spectators with thumbs up and fist pumps, and they gave me a lot of cheering, much more than Max got. That’s probably because he was always right behind me, not because they thought I was cooler or anything.

Nina: And were there any surprises for you on the course today?

Max: Well I earned my PhD on the way here.

Nina: Pardon?

Max: That’s right. I’m now a certified Pothole Dodger.

Michael: For me, it was kind of intimidating how fast the elite runners came by, men and then women. But the breeze they made was surprisingly refreshing.

Nina: How on earth did you get ahead of the elite runners?

Max: I ate my Wheaties this morning.

Michael: But in all seriousness, like many things in life it’s about who you know. The race organizers told us it was fine if we started at the front of the pack and even let us drive straight to the starting line. Olympic marathon gold medalist Frank Shorter didn’t object, maybe because my time was faster than his a few years ago and I didn’t give him a hard time about it.

Nina: Wow. Did anyone else get special treatment like that?

Michael: Yeah. A very out-spoke-n group that has been participating in the Falmouth Road Race for 40 years. The other wheelchair racers.

Nina: Ohhhhh. That makes a lot more sense. How did you divide the labor?

Max: I pushed, he rolled.

Michael: No, I pulled and he struggled to keep up. It’s all relative. Plus, I had to carry all the gear.

Nina: How did you train to be a wheelchair team?

Max: We practiced with both a standard and a lightweight wheelchair on the trail by our home in Maryland. We had help tuning them up to get rid of caster chatter. We went on a full-length practice run around Santuit Pond last week with my mom driving a pace car behind warning off crazy drivers. Running with the chair actually isn’t as physically demanding as you’d think

Michael: For me, no surprise, it was not physically difficult, other than keeping things out of the spokes. It was mentally challenging to figure out how to do it and required as much communication as a relay race. Good thing there was no baton to drop.

Nina: Did you like being on a wheelchair team?

Max: It’s good to have my dad as a running buddy again. Like when I first started running with him.

Michael: It was glorious to be out on the road with Max again. I am deeply grateful to him for coming up with the idea and sticking with it. More fun than pouring ice water on my head the other day, for sure.

Nina: Anyone you’d like to recognize for this incredible achievement?

Michael: I’d like to give a shout-out to our neighbor Gary, to Jeff Cupps who runs the Baltimore MDA wheelchair loan program, and Falmouth’s own Ron Hoffman at Compassionate Care ALS for helping us make this happen.

Max: And I’d like to thank the Santuit Striders, our family team of runners and supporters up here on the Cape, as well as all the other wheelchair runners for showing me this was possible. And my little sister Julia for running out to help push in the last mile when I needed it the most, even though I would never admit it.

Nina: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Max and Michael, for sharing your heartwarming experience with our viewers.

Michael: Thanks for having us, Nina.

Max: Thank you. Now we’re off to see more of the race. Bye until next year!

Nina: That’s all for now. This is Nina Murrow, signing off.

a fictional interview based on actual events, by Max and Michael Gollin