Reporting Ron Matz
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — He’s the man the Ravens draw their inspiration from, a portrait of courage and determination. O.J. Brigance was part of the Ravens’ Super Bowl team in 2001.
Ron Matz reports on Brigance’s long journey since then in his fight against Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Brigance was in the locker room as the Ravens celebrated the AFC Championship. He was a champion with the Baltimore Stallions and then part of the Ravens’ 2001 Super Bowl team. But six years ago, when he was 37, Brigance was diagnosed with ALS–an incurable disease.
His wife, Chanda, is his rock.
“The Brigance Brigade raises money for patient services. When we were first diagnosed, we learned that just your day to day routine is interrupted. People with ALS need help. They can’t afford equipment and supplies,” Chanda Brigance said.
A computer screen is mounted on his wheelchair. His eyes choose the keys. The DynaVox enables Brigance to communicate.
“The piece of equipment O.J. uses is called the DynaVox. It communicates for him, anything he wants to say. It will answer the phone for him, it turns the television on and off, he can even email and text message. It’s part of our family,” Chanda Brigance said.
The Brigance Brigade raises money to fight ALS. These T-shirts are brand new.
“There has been some small distributions [of money]. As we work to broaden our foundation, we will be able to do more to help patients. We are excited about the opportunity to partner with Johns Hopkins University as one of the avenues to help my fellow ALS warriors,” O.J. Brigance said in 2011.
That foundation will help others fight this horrible disease.
“The wheelchairs are expensive. They vary across the spectrum. There’s all type of equipment and they’re all expensive. Nothing good comes cheap,” Chandra Brigance said. “Just one of the meds is about $2,000 a month. Add that with the other meds, the nursing help and the equipment, so it’s very expensive and that’s where the Brigance Brigade comes in trying to help.”
And for the Ravens’ soul and foundation, his courage will follow his team all the way to the Super Bowl.
Brigance serves as a senior advisor to player development for the Ravens and has an office in the Ravens’ complex in Owings Mills.