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Minor league baseball team gives away free funeral

August 21, 2013 7:17:56 AM PDT
It started out as a novel promotion at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs baseball game Tuesday, but it turned into a serious and poignant story.

The baseball team held a contest, and the prize was a $10,000 funeral package.

The promotion was called morbid by some. But not to Steve Paul.

"For a person who is actually thinking of these things, it's very comforting," he said.

You see, Paul can't walk. He shakes uncontrollably. His body ravaged by ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

"No one is prepared for their own ending of the journey," said Paul. "We were not prepared financially, emotionally or anything else."

Paul is the winner of the $10,000 funeral package.

He was diagnosed in early June. Two weeks later he entered the promotion and wrote the required essay to the IronPigs.

He cried, but focused on his message: "It's not for me, it's for my family."

"Writing the letter, and coming to grips I will be needing these things, was very hard. And finding the words to express it," said Paul.

"It's shaken my world, shaken my family's world," said his daughter, Robyn Paul. "This is one less thing we have to worry about."

The promotion's sponsor, Reichel Funeral Home, chose Paul out of 50 entries.

"I was personally looking to help a family in need," said Reichel. "It feels good."

The 64-year-old Paul, from Freemansburg, Pa., says he's comforted his family will not be burdened by funeral expenses.

As part of his essay, he had to detail his ideal funeral.

"I think it's just going to be a memorial service for people to get together, support each other and remember the good times," he said. "It's not about death. It's about life, and that's what I want them to do."

Paul says doctors haven't yet given him a prognosis. ALS is unpredictable.

But he says he's fighting and believes it'll be years, not months, before he cashes in his prize.

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