Athens, Ala. – Athens High School’s head football coach, Coach Cody Gross, calls Sam Graham, “The brother I never had.” The bond that these two men have goes back to their playing days for the University of North Alabama where they won national championships together and were roommates. Of course, the best friendships no only include good times, but they also include challenging times. About 10 years ago, Coach Sam Graham, who is currently the linebackers coach for Athens High School, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As the years have passed, things have become more difficult for Coach Graham. Recently, the Graham’s looked into a special treatment called, “Lemtrada” to give Coach Graham some relief. At first, it looked as though insurance would not cover the treatment which was estimated to be around $110,000. A couple of days ago, the family received the great news that the Lemtrada treatment would be covered. While there will still be expenses associated with Coach Graham’s MS, the family is optimistic about the possibilities of this new treatment. Being the close friend that he is, Coach Cody Gross wanted to do something big to help his friend. Coach Gross decided to begin a fundraiser to help the Graham family with expenses associated with Coach Graham’s condition. One of the things that the family is currently working on is remodeling their house to give Coach Graham easier access throughout their home. Of course, remodeling isn’t cheap. Because of that, a YouCaring page has been established to help the family with that expense in addition to any other expense that might not be covered through the Lemtrada treatment.
On Saturday, May 27th, Coach Gross came on Applebee’s Tailgate Talk to announce the fundraiser and to encourage friends around the country to support this effort for Coach Graham. On the YouCaring fundraising page, Coach Gross said the following: “TPW – Tough People Win…it is a phrase that my good friend, Sam Graham, introduced to me just a few months ago. Sam is my former college teammate & roommate, current LB coach & Strength & Conditioning Coordinator for us at Athens HS, and the brother I never had. He is the toughest person I have ever been around. From his days as a ferocious LB to his present-day job as a tenacious coach, Sam has always been a man’s man. He is also the best man I know. He is a Godly man who has… always put Jesus first in his life & others before himself. He is the most selfless, humble, disciplined, and caring man I know. In 2010, Sam was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and has fought it tooth & nail every step of the way. In the coming days, Sam will undergo a treatment (Lemtrada) that we pray will slow the progression of this disease and restore much of Sam’s health. Insurance has approved the treatment, but it is not clear if it will cover 100% of the costs. The Grahams are in need of renovations to their house to accommodate Sam’s physical needs. This will include adding a master suite that will be totally handicap accessible. This includes a 5 x 8 walk-in shower, a carport, ramp, and laundry area. Doors will be widened throughout the house and the carpet will be removed. I am calling for all friends and family to rally around Sam and his family during this time. TPW – Tough People Win…Sam Graham is tough & he is going to win! I will be there for him and I pray that you will as well.”
To support this effort, you can go to youcaring.com/SamGrahamTPW and donate. Whatever you choose to do, please make sure you share the fundraiser with your friends. TPW!