MONTGOMERY — Former Auburn basketball player Gary Godfrey and former Alabama running back Kerry Goode teamed up at the Alabama State Capitol on Thursday to kick off the second annual "Kerry & Gary Challenge to Defeat ALS."

In partnership with the ALS Association, a leader in ALS research, advocacy and support, the challenge aims to surpass last year's inaugural competition in terms of people reached, funds raised, and impact achieved. The challenge rallies fans before the Iron Bowl to compete to raise the most funds in support of the overall goal of $250,000 for Alabama families impacted by ALS. 

ALS, or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a neurological disorder that affects motor neurons, the nerve cells in the brain, and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement and breathing. ALS was formerly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Tanja Goode, Kerry's wife, spoke at the press conference about the challenges she and Kerry faced when he was diagnosed in 2015.

"When Kerry was first diagnosed, we didn't tell anybody for a while," Tanja said. "We didn't tell his parents. They were on a trip actually so we actually prayed and wondered what was our purpose in life, what were we supposed to be doing with this? Of course, it was a knock in the head. What were we supposed to be doing with this? We prayed and wondered what did God want us to do with this. This is what came of it, advocacy to spread the word to get it out. When he was running across that field for of course the University of Alabama that was just a stepping stone to his life just to be seen, be heard later on in life. These are the things that we discussed and talked about because it was obvious at that time what we were supposed to be doing and here we are."

Tanja continued, "It's a purpose-driven life for both of these gentlemen because I never would've thought that I'd have been up here saying 'War Damn Eagle' but it's bigger than that and that's what we're here to do. It's our purpose in life. That's what God has directed us to do and that's what we're doing. It's the worst disease ever to have and it's the best life we've ever had. We're living it to the best that we can live."

Gov. Kay Ivey said, "I am proud to join the Kerry and Gary Challenge to Defeat ALS, an incredible initiative that utilizes the spirit of the Iron Bowl to support those who are battling this devastating disease." 

"As Alabamians are gearing up for the fierce football rivalry that has defined our state for generations, I encourage all to join this challenge. Many families across our state are impacted by ALS, and it is certainly a cause worth fighting for," Ivey said.

Godfrey said, "This fundraising challenge provides vital support to ALS families because limited insurance coverage means patients' families often cover up to $250,000 in annual medical costs out-of-pocket." 

"We not only want to raise funds for ALS, but we also want Auburn to prevail again against Alabama in the Kerry & Gary Challenge," Godfrey said.

Kerry Goode said, "As I face the loss of my voice, I stress the need to amplify the voices of all ALS patients and their families through the Kerry & Gary Challenge." 

"Your support makes a real difference for those saddled with the enormous cost of living with this disease," Kerry Goode said.

For more information on the challenge and how to support the cause, visit:

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