As a fundraiser for the Les Turner ALS Foundation, at the end of last month, 56-year old Doug McConnell swam a 28.5 mile trip around Manhattan Island. Completing the “triple crown” of open water swimming, this follows McConnell’s success over the last few years such as his 2011 English Channel swim and his Catalina Channel swim the year later.
In 2006 McConnell’s father died from ALS, spurring his son Doug to raise money for research into the disease. This year is particularly significant for ALS since July 4th marked the 75th anniversary of the infamous Lou Gehrig’s ‘Luckiest Man’ speech, delivered at the original Yankees stadium. Just short of two years later – at the young age of 37 – Lou Gehrig himself passed away from the disease.
McConnell’s father himself was very athletic, having been a vet working with dairy cattle. To witness his strength ebb away so quickly, was very difficult for Doug. It was 12 years after his diagnosis that he finally succumbed to the disease entirely and passed away. Doug explains that swimming for charity became “away to make it feel a little bit less selfish, and add another facet or element to the whole thing. Frankly, it has added far more than I have ever bargained for.”