MILWAUKEE -- Professional athletes aren't only role models, they're heroes! The other night, one of the Milwaukee Brewers' biggest fans got to meet one of his, but this fan is a hero in his own right.
It was fitting to meet Paul Schmitter and his wife, Magda before a Brewers game at Miller Park recently because he is absolutely passionate about the national pasttime. 77-year-old Schmitter is a gifted architect whose designs include the Ronald McDonald House, and nearly 50 churches.
Along the way, Schmitter has built a lifetime of baseball memories -- first with the Milwaukee Braves when his uncle took him to the 1957 World Series, and now, the Brewers.
Schmitter is a big fan of the late great Lou Gehrig, but not of the fatal disease that bears the name of the immortal New York Yankees ironman.
Schmitter has ALS -- a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement.
"He's actually the 17th one in his family. His father passed away from it, several uncles, aunts, cousin, and it started with your great-grandfather who came over from Germany," Magda said.
There is no known cute for ALS and death often occurs within three to five years of diagnosis.
"He was diagnosed three years ago in June, and he's doing quite well. At the time, they had kinda gave us an expectancy of one-and-a-half to three years, and we're looking for many more years," Magda said.
Schmitter says he "definitely" wants to see another World Series!
Like anyone who has ever had the dreaded disease, Schmitter's desire is to strike out ALS. His outlook on life allows Schmitter to swing for the fences.
"My attitude is, I've been very blessed. I've lived a very full life and a very successful life, and I have loved ones and friends around me. I'm looking forward to the day when they have a cure, for my sons and my grandchildren and for everyone," Schmitter said.
"When I see him have a down moment, I can't feel bad because I know I'd probably be a bear to live with if I had this disease, because it really does suck, and I know that's what the T-shirts will say, but it does. It is something really bad that happens to good people, and there is nothing we can do about it," Magda said.
Schmitter had the chance to connect with one of his favorite players -- Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy and watch a Brewers win over the Marlins. It couldn't have happened to a nicer gentleman.
"I live and die with the Brewers. Maybe too much! And it's the same with the Packers," Schmitter said.
On Friday night, July 27th, the Brewers and the ALS Association of Wisconsin are hosting a "Chasin' the Cure" tailgate party at Miller Park. CLICK HERE for more information.