He didn't remember if it was during a delay, or if the game had been rained out altogether. But Mike Timlin will never forget the phone call that came to the clubhouse in Miami, where his Cardinals were facing the Marlins back in 2001.
About a year earlier, his mom had begun to drag her right foot when she walked. She was falling, a lot, though doctors initially weren't sure why. They diagnosed it first as multiple sclerosis. Then sciatica. Then dropfoot. Then came the phone call.
It was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease. And less than a year after receiving that diagnosis -- after first taking her ability to walk and to speak, while leaving her intellect and awareness painfully unaffected -- it took his mother's life.
“It took a normal course with her,” Timlin explained. “It was in her feet more than her hands early, and her legs and her feet died out quickly. Eventually it went in and she could speak hardly, and she could barely feed herself. It took the classic rout."
Even a couple years later, the right-handed reliever said he "didn't really want to relive it" -- but he found a way to honor his mother's memory in a most productive and positive fashion. Back in 2004, during his second season with the Red Sox, he joined with The Angel Fund to establish the Sharon Timlin Memorial 5K Race to Cure ALS and raise money for research being done on an affliction about which so much is still unknown.
This past weekend in Hopkinton the Timlin race was run for the 10th time, with 100 percent of the money raised going to the Cecil B. Day Laboratory for Neuromuscular Research at UMass-Medical -- and taking the total of its contributions well past $1 million over the course of a decade.
Timlin was on hand, of course, signing autographs with a right hand that wore one of the two World Series rings he earned during his six years in Boston, as was former Sox teammate Tim Wakefield, who has become something of a regular at the event. The initial race in 2004 featured 400 runners, but Saturday the field featured 1,800 participants, including ex-Senator Scott Brown and Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez, as well as hundreds of people who have been somehow affected by the disease and were running with a personal purpose.
They came from 12 different stages, ranging in age from 7 to 78 -- and organizers are hopeful they'll come again next year, as the race enters its second decade.
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