Jeff Young resides in Lake Oswego, Oregon with his daughter. He has been battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease) since 1983. In addition to being a single father, Jeff is doing preparatory work for Wake Up Call!, a book wherein he relays how he has maintained a positive mental attitude despite the tragic events and circumstances in his life.

Friends of Jeff was established in 2000, in support of Jeff and his daughter.

 

Background from Jeff

Early

I was born in Portland, Oregon on February 14th, 1962, and raised in nearby Lake Oswego. It used to be that when people would ask me when my birthday was, I would turn profile and ask them to guess what day a face like this would have for a birthday. When the answers kept coming back Halloween instead of Valentine's Day, I decided to stop asking.

I grew up in the house I now live in and graduated from Lake Oswego High School in 1980 where I was tabbed the KISS freak for my obsession with the rock band KISS. I couldn't help myself from waggling my tongue like Gene Simmons at the girls… and my friends… and the teachers… and… okay; I was a Simmons freak! But I did also manage to post some nice academic marks after a slow start in the classroom, and fared well on the football and baseball fields.


Check out those calves!
(1962)


Off To College


Although recruited out of high school to play college baseball, I decided to spurn the offers and headed to Ashland, Oregon to try my hand at college football at Southern Oregon State College. I remember being

terrified of being cut and returning home with my tail between my legs. Instead, I earned the spot as the starting fullback as a freshman and kept it throughout my three-year tenure at SOSC. I want to take this time to thank the 1979 Lakeridge High School Football Team. If not for the foul taste you guys left in my mouth when you kicked our butts right out of state playoff contention, I would never have attempted to play college football.

In March of 1982, I traveled to Los Angeles to visit my longtime buddy and Black 'N Blue guitarist, Jeff "Woop" Warner. Woop taught me to play guitar during that visit and ignited my passion to pursue a lifelong dream of having my own rock band. I could not have been more pumped.

In January of 1983, I transferred to the University of Oregon in Eugene and enrolled in the school's Business Marketing program. Although I maintained a track record of academic success, it was truly my ambition to perfect my craft as a guitarist and my burning desire to start my own band that fueled me during my tenure at U of O. Music theory classes, voice lessons, and countless hours of practice consumed every bit as much time that school did as I pushed onwards towards my dream.



Southern Oregon State College (1982)



Trouble Begins

In October of 1983, the nightmare began. It started when I began having trouble holding my guitar pick. The campus doctors blew off the notion that something was wrong and I returned to my routine. Within a few months, I knew something was definitely awry and returned to the Student Health Center. But when the doctors gave me no more satisfying an explanation than before, I sought an evaluation by a Portland neurologist.

Dr. Jacob Wilson recommended I be hospitalized for testing immediately upon examining me. After testing, Dr. Wilson informed me that I most likely had ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). I was also told that the disease would likely claim my life within three years, and that the intervening time wouldn't be much of a party either.

ALS is a progressive neurological disease whereby the nerve roots in your system progressively die off. The full name of the disease is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The "Amyotrophic" part of the illness accounts for the progressive weakness and deterioration of the muscle tissue in your system. The "Lateral Sclerosis" part of the malady accounts for distorted communication throughout the nervous system progressively leading to severely impaired motor coordination.

The disease progressively weakens the muscles and impairs the motor coordination until only the eyes and breathing muscles function. Death occurs when the muscles that support breathing function finally give out. I was told that medical science had no explanation for the disease, no cure or treatment to offer, and that doctors and medical science could do nothing for me. In effect, I could expect to spend the next three years dying a slow, horrifying death with no chance of help intervening.



Woop and Jeff (1983)



Los Angeles

Not easily discouraged, I returned to U of O and received my Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing in June of 1985 before packing my bags and moving south to Los Angeles. I took a job working at KOALA Blue headquarters in the trendy Melrose District. At this time, progression of my illness was so slow, the experts began to question whether or not this malady was truly ALS. Other than some slightly more advanced weakness in my right hand, I felt good.

With my health seemingly stabilized, I enrolled myself in acting lessons and vigorously worked to learn my new craft. Within a

couple shorts months, my instructors moved me from the beginners class to the advanced instruction, skipping the intermediate step altogether. It seemed as if I had found a new endeavor to help fill the void left when fate took the guitar out of my hands and the accompanying dream out of my reach. Unfortunately, it wouldn't last long.

In July of 1986, I began to notice difficulty negotiating the stairs at the KOALA Blue corporate office. Desiring consistency, I returned to Portland to be reevaluated by the original diagnosing physicians. A marked increase in muscle spasticity in my jaw, arms, and legs indicated that the condition had spread and was almost certainly ALS. Just as my ability to play guitar before, it was clearly only a short matter of time before acting would be taken from me as well.


Jeff and Black 'N Blue lead singer,
Jaime St. James (1984)


The following September, I left acting instruction for good and shortly afterwards would leave the workforce as well. Eventually I returned to rooming with Woop where we began a music project aside from Woop's role as a member of Geffen recording artists, Black 'N Blue. Although we were both pleased with the musical results, Woop's personal distractions and commitment to Black 'N Blue made the project untenable.

 After the disappointing end to the collaboration with Woop, I moved back home to Oregon to sort out my life. Though my stay in Oregon was short, I managed to marry and returned to Los Angeles in January of 1989. Armed with a new goal, I began work on my first screenplay.

My Daughter Is Born

In August of that year, my life's greatest blessing, my daughter, was born. As my wife needed to work, I was accorded the honor of playing Mr. Mom to my baby girl. Although I would have had it no other way, caring for an infant while teaching myself the craft of screenwriting, writing a full length screenplay, and simultaneously battling a terminal illness was a handful!

I wish I could tell you a storybook ending to my marriage, but I would have to plagiarize someone else's story to do it. We divorced in late 1990. At that time, I returned to the Portland area with my daughter where we continue to live today.

 


The Proud Papa (1989)

The 1990s

The decade of the '90s saw my baby girl blossom into a fine young lady. I've been so privileged to have been a full time father during this time, to watch her grow up, and exert my full influence upon her. It's been a decade that started with myself broken in every sense of the word and devoid of any sort of hope for the future.


Like Father, Like Daughter (1991)


It has also been a decade of incredible growth and learning as I have been confronted with life's greatest and toughest lessons. I have had to confront: my mortality, potentially losing my daughter, financial ruin, and rebuilding a broken life with a broken body and a broken spirit. The fight back has been an incredible journey through pain, heartache, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles that has built my character and sweetened the taste of victory. I can't wait to tell you about it in the book I am writing.




Now


What and how are my daughter and I doing now? We live here in the Portland area where my daughter has just graduated from Lake Oswego High School. She is an exceedingly bright girl, that continues to do her papa proud. This fall, she plans on attending college out of state before pursuing a career in film .


Jeff backstage with Gene Simmons (2000)


 I'm not sure that what I am doing is nearly as important as the fact that I am still doing whatever it is that I am doing. If you did the math, I should have been dead sometime before my daughter was ever born. Instead I am raising a teenager, working on my third screenplay, building websites, coaching the local high school football team, and doing preparatory work for a book about why life is fantastic (To view excerpts from this work go to ).

I'm supposed to be bitter and angry, and sometimes I do feel these emotions, but mostly I just feel thankful and grateful. Thankful I have a wonderful family, a jewel of a daughter, and fantastic friends. God has permitted me to stay here on earth far beyond anyone's expectations, and entrusted me with stewardship of my precious daughter. How can I feel anything but grateful with these treasures in my life?

I hope that you will enjoy the Friends of Jeff website. If you would like to contact me, or would like more information about Friends of Jeff, please go to our page. I would love to hear from you. Because my computer input is exceedingly slow and tedious, I cannot always answer every email. But I assure you that I read all of them and find them a great source of support and inspiration. Life is good, getting better, and the best is yet to come. I'll see you at the top!

-Jeff



 Jeff and His Daughter, Priya
   

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