Dugout Mugs is proud to partner with the Robert Luongo ALS Fund to raise money for this terrible disease. Together let’s strikeout ALS. The fund was started in 2004 by longtime MLB umpire Phil Cuzzi, who received a call from his dearest friend Robert Luongo in 1999 informing him that he had ALS.
“He told me he was having trouble with his hand,” he explained. “It was getting numb and it’d come and go and when it’d come back it would creep up his arm. Long story short he was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. The first thing he said to me was I’ve been given a death sentence.”
Cuzzi spent 2003 raising money to get his beloved friend a computer that allowed him to type with the movement of his eyes. One year later, on St. Patrick’s Day, the MLB umpire found out his friend passed away when Luongo’s wife informed him of the news. While he had no intentions of starting a foundation early on, with the outpouring of support from the community and financial donations, he didn’t know what to do.
“One of the last things I said to Robert when he was alive is that he’d never have to worry about the education of his then nine-year-old daughter,” Cuzzi said.” We’d raise money and send her to whatever school she wanted to go to. I’m very proud to say his daughter Dominique followed in his footsteps and graduated from Harvard, and is now attending Harvard Law School.”
Since its inception in 2004, the Robert Luongo ALS Foundation has raised over 800 thousand dollars which have gone toward patient care, ramps, wheelchairs, home care aides, to pay off medical bills, give scholarships to kids or grandparents of ALS patients, and also money for research.
Their yearly event in Belleville, New Jersey has gone virtual this year due to COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped Cuzzi and his team from putting on a star-studded event that features Bob Costas leading a discussion with baseball greats Bobby Valentine, Bucky Dent, and Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre.
In addition, the event will feature the sons of New York Yankee legends Yogi Berra, Roger Maris, and Mickey Mantle in a live question and answer session, reminiscing about their fathers' baseball legacy.
Dugout Mugs made a limited edition design that is only available TODAY with the image of Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle, and that same image is going to be painted by an artist the night of the event, and they will auction that off at the end of the night.
For Randy Maris, the son of Roger Maris, when Cuzzi contacted him to be a part of the fundraiser he jumped at the chance to help out.
“ALS is such a horrible, debilitating disease and to be able to help raise money to support survivors' scholarships, research, and equipment for patients is an honor for me as I’m sure it is David Mantle and Larry Berra,” he said.
As for the Dugout Mug with his dad, Mickey, and Yogi, he loved everything about it.
“When I saw the Dugout Mug with Dad, Mickey and Yogi, I thought it was a beautiful piece of art and craftsmanship,” he added. “The smiles on their faces reminded me of the great sense of humor that all three of them had. When they got together you could tell they truly enjoyed their friendships."