There are challenges so unforgiving they can swallow the most fierce among us.
Borje Salming was the rock of the Toronto Maple Leafs blue line in the 70’s and 80’s and one the 100 Greatest NHL Players of all time. Many a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast featured Salming, the rare Swede in a game dominated by Canadians. He was so loved in Toronto that years later in a Canada Cup game between Canada and Sweden, the Toronto crowd cheered louder and longer for Salming than for any player on Team Canada.
I was never a fan of the Maple Leafs but it’s hard not to be a fan of Salming. He is muted and physically limited at the hands of ALS. On Saturday’s latest version of HNIC he dropped the ceremonial first puck for Swedish players from each team. He had to be physically supported by his family and was emotionally overwhelmed by the reception of an adoring Toronto crowd, many of whom never saw him play.
Salming is no stranger to pain. He was attributed the title no one wants of “high priest of the facial cut.” In one NHL game Salming’s face absorbed a skate-blade from a Detroit player. It took nearly 250 stitches to close the gruesome wound. But ALS is a different beast.
He was diagnosed in August 2022. “In an instant, everything changed. I do not know how the days ahead will be, but I understand that there will be challenges greater than anything I have ever faced.”
ALS is a progressive disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, deteriorating the motor neurons — the ones that are responsible for voluntary movements such as talking and walking — which leads to a loss of muscle control, respiratory failure and, eventually, death.
Borje Salming passed away on November 24, 2022.
The Fellowship of the Fierce
I’ve been blessed to be a pastor to many fierce people of all ages. Each one and their families faced the unknown, sustained by faith and trust in God.
John Orfino waged his own courageous 37-month battle with ALS.
Jordan Gagnon was 5-years old when she started battling GAN, a rare neurological disease.
Aubrey Schatz faces Beals Syndrome, a rare Connective Tissue Disorder.
Katelyn Murray was diagnosed with leukemia at age 13 and is now battling a return of leukemia at age 20.
MacKenzee Wittke was born with a condition so rare that the “Mackenzee Wittke Syndrome” was named after her. She was given only weeks to live. In August 2022, Kenzee celebrated her 13th birthday.
Please share these stories with someone you know who is fierce.
Please post about their story or leave a comment below for one of the above stories. Thank you.
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