Reporting Mary Bubala
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Bullying and being called names are often a part of life for middle school children. But Thursday, one man — who’s well-known in Baltimore — shared a tough life lesson.
Mary Bubala shows how it starts to set in for seventh-graders at one city school.
O.J. Brigance, a former Ravens player and now part of the team’s player development, has been an inspiration to the team as he battles Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
But Thursday, his life story is meant as a wake-up call for seventh-graders at the Baltimore Freedom Academy.
“They were talking trash to one another and it was escalating,” teacher Corey Gaber said.
The boys have been mean to each other, calling each other names.
“They’re always making fun of people and I don’t like it,” one seventh-grader said.
Gaber needed someone like Brigance to get through to them.
“He’s somebody who turned what people normally saw as a deficiency into something amazing, that he could touch even more people,” Gaber said.
“I know I am much stronger now,” Brigance told the boys through his special computer.
Brigance was diagnosed with ALS in 2007. From that moment, he told the boys he decided not to let the disease stop him.
He goes to work at Ravens headquarters everyday and has raised more than a million dollars in ALS research.
His message to the boys: Figure out how to make your weakness a strength.
“I have been able to do greater things with ALS than I ever did playing,” Brigance said.
“He’s an incredible person because he’s turned a difficulty into something great,” seventh-grader Justin Lynch said.
The seventh-graders at the Freedom Academy plan to run in Brigance’s upcoming 5K race to raise money for ALS research.
Click here to sign up for the race on May 5.