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Mike Rickey

ALS Angel

Mike loved sports his entire life. His dad coached him in Little League baseball, and he started bowling in his teens. In middle school and high school, he played basketball and football. During his 32-year career as an engineer/manager, he participated in Caterpillar’s golf and bowling leagues, which led to many life-long friendships that he cherished.

Mike was an avid fan of nearly all Chicago sports teams - the Bears, the Cubs, and the Blackhawks. Despite hours trying to indoctrinate his two sons, Jacob and Steven, into Chicago sports fandom, one son became a St. Louis Cardinals and Blues fan, and the other became a Green Bay Packers fan. Although Mike vocally feigned disappointment, he embraced having friendly rivalries under his roof.

For all the sports he enjoyed, few things rivaled Mike’s joy of being on the golf course – his happy place. When he wasn’t playing golf, he was likely watching golf or volunteering at professional golf tournaments. He started volunteering in 2003 and built up an impressive resume over the next 16 years as a walking scorer and laser operator. Some of his favorite tournaments included the Masters, U.S. Open, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Open Championship, and the John Deere Classic. He loved having his wife, Keri, and their sons volunteer alongside him on multiple occasions.

That’s why it was particularly devastating when golf was the first thing ALS took from him.

Mike first noticed something was wrong in February 2019 when he began experiencing involuntary muscle spasms and weakness in his arms. By April, he was unable to swing a golf club. After several months seeking answers, Mike and Keri traveled to Johns Hopkins Hospital where he was diagnosed with Limb-onset ALS on September 9, 2019. His diagnosis came just five days before his oldest son’s wedding.

Mike’s family was always the most important part of his life, and he was never happier than when his sons were happy. So, like the true warrior he was, he put a big smile on his face and enjoyed every moment of the wedding weekend, waiting to share his diagnosis until later. That’s the kind of person Mike was, always putting others before himself.

When Mike was diagnosed, it was heartbreaking – for himself and everyone who cared about him. He knew he wouldn’t win, but he wanted something good to come from his journey. He wanted to show his sons and others how to face adversity with strength, courage, and love.

He set his sights and shared his story. He was transparent and honest as he spread awareness about what ALS is and how it was affecting his body. He continued to pray and held fast to his faith, never asking “why me?” He spent every moment he could with those he loved, making them laugh with his incredible wit and infectious smile.

He participated in fundraisers and clinical trials to help find a cure, knowing that it wouldn’t be found in time to help him. He hoped that his experience might help others facing the same challenge… or better yet, it might show someone how to beat it.

In his own way, Mike “won” his battle with ALS on December 6, 2021, by never allowing it to define who he was as a person.

Mike Rickey
Mike Rickey
Mike Rickey
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