My friend Marc Levison died October 8, 2009. I can’t believe it’s been so long. He fought a long hard battle against a terrible disease, ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He would want you to know that he didn’t die of ALS, he died of cancer.
Here is an excerpt from a story I wrote about him several weeks before his death.
Marc was one of the most inspirational person I’ve ever met. When the little things in life get me down, I think about him, and the battle he courageously fought. In the end he couldn’t move, talk so you could understand him, but he wanted to be around people and they wanted to be around him. He wrote, via email to hundreds, maybe thousands of people
His family established a race, in his honor, that takes place every labor day. I wrote this profile about him several weeks before his death. I was documenting his life, and the race that was so important to him. The race, the Marc Levison Race still takes place every labor day.
Marc Levison―Local Hero
Marc Levison was excited. He maneuvered his wheelchair up and down the sidewalk in front of Jeffrey mansion, a park in Bexley, Ohio.
He surveyed the early morning crowd. He was gratified that so many people were registering for his 5K race on Labor day weekend.
The Marc Levison 7th annual ALS race would be underway soon. Levison couldn’t walk or run in the race, but others would honor him by taking his place and donating to his cause―finding a cure for ALS.
ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lou Gehrig was a New York Yankee baseball player in the 1930’s who contracted and died from this disease. It attacks brain cells in the spinal cord and brain.
Eventually, the muscles of the body weaken and waste away. People usually live 3 to 5 years after being diagnosed.
ALS began attacking Levison’s muscles 21 years ago.
People who knew Levison when he was younger, remember a tall lanky guy with a great sense of humor and a gift of gab. Muscles are necessary for speech; fortunately, Levison found another way to communicate.
Luckily, the personal computer became popular and more accessible when he was losing some of his physical abilities. He’s used it to reach hundreds of people. His goal was to influence people to value the important things in life: love, charity and friendship. Sitting in a wheelchair gave him a unique perspective.
You can’t mention Levison without thinking about Eileen, his devoted wife of 42 years. She stood by him and did what she could to make his life easier. They met when they were in high school.
Levison joined the navy and went to fight the war in Vietnam. When he came home on leave, they got married. After a few years they had a home in Bexley, and two sons, Brent and Kevin. Both Levisons worked for Plaza properties; he was an electrician and she managed apartments.
Life took an unexpected turn when Levison started having difficulty walking. The family was devastated when they heard the diagnosis: ALS.
Levison lived for 21 years with a disease that was supposed to his him in 3 to 5 . From the beginning Levison was determined to approach things in a positive way.
Judaism is the foundation of Levison’s life, and his faith sustained him. He was continually inspiring others by his good deeds and attitude. In typical Levison style, he visited people at Heritage House and Sunrise Senior Living―faciilities for older people in Columbus, Ohio. His goal was to cheer them up, and he did.
Levison was proud of all the money he raised to fight ALS. The money wet to the Neuromuscular Research Center at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Quitting was not in Levison’s vocabulary. He fought the cancer with chemotherapy
The evening before the race, Levison was at Starbucks in Bexley, Ohio. He was listening to Soul Kitch’n, the band that was kicking off the start of the race. He was greeting everyone who came to the crowded outdoor patio. Nothing could keep him away, not even the first chemotherapy treatment he received the previous day.
Update: the money raised at the race bought a very important microscope for research. Although Marc is gone, you can still help fight the fight. Money raised at the race is going for research.
The 10th Marc Levison race is on Sunday, September 2, at Jeffrey Mansion. Pre-registration is at 7:30. The race is at 8:30.
You can get information at http://www.premiereraces.com
- Researchers discover blood biomarker for Lou Gehrig’s disease, could lead to new treatments (medicalxpress.com)