Former East Carolina coach Keith LeClair can’t wait for
baseball season. His seat is reserved, just down the first base line.
ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, has taken its toll on LeClair.
The former Pirate skipper, though, fights on, day by day.
LeClair will be honored this weekend for his work in
increasing awareness about ALS at the second annual Field of Dreams Gala in
Durham on Saturday night — but LeClair won't be there, because he’s planning
on watching his Pirates against Western Carolina this weekend.
I visited LeClair this week for a story that we aired on
Thursday night. That story will also be presented at the Field of Dreams
Gala on Saturday night.
Our interview was scheduled for 10:30AM on Tuesday. I hadn’t
seen Coach LeClair in over six months. I really didn’t know what to expect.
An emergency news meeting made me late for the interview.
LeClair was ready. His first words to me, from his computer, told me that I
“You’re late,” LeClair said via his retinal scanner. “If I
was Bobby Knight, I’d kick you out.”
LeClair is unable to smile, but you can still feel the
warmth and wit in his words.
LeClair now communicates by scanning an alphabet board on a
computer screen. His eyes dart from letter to letter, forming words and
sentences to be spoken through the computer’s speakers.
I can’t imagine what life for LeClair would be like without
this latest technology.
The thing I took away most from my interview with Keith and
his wife Lynn was the unbelievable faith they both showed.
“I think for a while you have to allow yourself time to ask
why,” said Lynn. “Sometimes people asked me if I’m mad at God. I just tell
them that God is pretty much all we have right now.”
Lynn LeClair is unbelievably strong. Her faith in God is
unbreakable. She and Keith have gone through so much. If ever there was an
angel on earth, that angel is Lynn LeClair.
Keith is just as strong. He sits motionless, yet he takes
the time to use his scanner to ask me about my family.
I find it ironic that the Pirates' baseball opener lands on
Valentine’s Day. Just think about the love that Pirate fans have already
shown the LeClairs.
That’s the one thing that both Lynn and Keith wanted me to
convey in my story, just how much they appreciated the Pirate fans.
With rain expected for the weekend, the Pirates have moved
up the schedule.
Look for Coach LeClair down that right field line checking
out the Pirates on opening day.
Give that Valentine of yours an extra hug today and remember
that life is so very precious.