Family and friends of former Penn State football captain and NFL veteran Steve Smith have launched a campaign and website to support Smith and his family as ongoing medical expenses related to his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s disease — sap their resources.
Smith has been living with ALS for nine years. While most diagnosed with the disease survive only a couple of years (Gehrig himself lived only a year after he was diagnosed), Smith continues to fight. He has lost the ability to control his muscles, is bedridden and can no longer walk or talk. He relies on a computer controlled by his eye movements as his sole means of communication.
Smith’s fight has come at a cost. He wisely saved for retirement during his pro football career, but he has drained that fund and his family’s financial cushion to keep up with medical expenses.
There are three ways to help Smith, a captain on Penn State’s unbeaten 1986 National Championship team:
• Visit www.stevesmithfund.org later in the week to make online donations and find updated information about Smith and his situation *As of Tuesday evening, the website was not up and running yet*
• Call: 1- 800-242-0335 to make a donation
• Text: STEVE (space) PLEDGE AMOUNT (space) YOUR NAME to 95495 to pledge a donation on your cell phone. (Example: STEVE 25 Joe). People making a pledge via text will receive a call from 1-800-242-0335 within five business days to process a credit card.
All donations are considered gifts and are not tax deductible. Donations will be held in a trust for the health, support and maintenance needs of Steve Smith.
As a senior in 1986, Smith helped lead Penn State to its second national championship. During his Nittany Lion career, the 6-foot-1, 235-pound fullback had 1,259 rushing yards, 31 receptions for 293 yards and scored 13 touchdowns.
Smith was drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders and had a nine-year NFL career with the Raiders and Seattle Seahawks.
“He’s a Penn Stater who needs a hand,” said Rogers Alexander, who was Smith’s teammate in high school and at Penn State. “I think the Penn State community appreciates good guys, and Steve has always been a good guy. You never heard about shenanigans from him while we were in school and he has been a model husband and father.
“Penn Staters know what it means to do the right thing. Not when it’s convenient. Not just when it’s easy. All the time. That’s the kind of person Steve has always been, and people have always responded to it. I have no doubt the Penn State community will respond again.”
Read Frank Bodani’s columns “Penn State family comes through for former Lion” (2011) and “Former PSU fullback Steve Smith still has strength to fight” (2010) in the York Daily Record about Steve Smith’s battle with ALS.
Read a 2006 Associated Press story about Smith.
Read more about Smith in the Penn State University release on fundraising efforts, including comments from some of his Penn State teammates.