On Tuesday, April 21, the Gallagher family of Erie, PA, will be featured on ESPN2’s E:60, a series that showcases the “Best Stories in Sports”.
Mike Gallagher is a father to six children. He is a former sports broadcaster and has been a National Kidney Foundation (NKF) advocate since he was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) four years ago.
“It was a shock being told that I have a disease that there is no cure for,” Mike said.
Immediately after the diagnosis, Mike called the National Kidney Foundation in Pittsburgh and spoke to a staff member on the phone for two hours about his diagnosis and what it meant for his health and his family.
“They helped me out a lot and led me to my doctors in Pittsburgh,” he said. “With their encouragement, I’ve been able to navigate this disease and I’ve been able to avoid dialysis with medications and lifestyle modifications.”
Shortly after his diagnosis, Mike’s 17-year-old daughter, Meghan, was also diagnosed with PKD. The family also increased their commitment to the kidney cause by working with the National Kidney Foundation and participating in Kidney Walks and gala events.
Then, in late 2013, the Gallaghers’ mother, Lisa Elaine Gallagher, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer.
“When my wife was diagnosed, we were preparing for the possibility that I could go into kidney failure at any moment,” Mike said. “I had also lost my job and our home. It was a lot for our family to go through.”
Lisa passed away in September 2014, surpassing doctor’s expectations for her survival by six months.
Lisa’s last gift to her 13-year-old-son, Jack, was a pair of CP3 basketball sneakers, a line of shoes put out by Jack’s favorite basketball player, Chris Paul. In a video made by the Gallaghers, Jack asked Chris Paul to write Lisa’s initials (L.E.G.) on his shoes for one game in her honor. When Chris Paul not only wrote the initials on his shoes, but also brought the family out to local games, the Gallagher family was suddenly the center of a media spotlight that continues to make headlines across the country.
The family’s story, past and present, is the focus of ESPN’s coverage airing on April 21st, and while it may seem like a sad story, Mike and the rest of the Gallaghers have always strived to put a positive spin on their tale.
“So many people came into our lives. The kidney community, friends, teachers and the NBA have all championed our story and have supported us,” he said. “We had some real obstacles to overcome, but that is the story–it’s a rebound story. Ultimately, it’s a testament to all of the good that can come from a difficult situation.”
The story airs on E:60 April 21st at 8pm ET on ESPN.