MRICD Hosts Guest Speakers O.J. and Chanda Brigance
The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense community observed National Disability Employment Awareness Month with special guest speakers O.J. and Chanda Brigance, Nov. 12 at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
O.J. Brigance, a former Baltimore Ravens player diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, in 2007, together with his wife, Chanda, gave a personal account of how they have dealt with Brigance's illness. While O.J. continues to work for the Ravens as senior advisor for player development, the couple continues to raise awareness of the disease and support for ALS research.
In their presentation, the Brigances discussed their dedication to positively impacting the lives of others with ALS. The couple raises funds to provide equipment that can help ALS patients communicate and remain mobile through their foundation, The Brigance Brigade Fund. O.J. also serves as the ALS ambassador for the Johns Hopkins University Packard Center for ALS Research.
As part of their presentation, the Brigances showed "The Heart of the Ravens," a short video about how O.J.'s perseverance in the face of adversity, courage, and character inspires everyone within the Baltimore Ravens organization. The clip captured how O.J.'s determination to come to work every day, despite his disabilities, motivated the Ravens to be not only better players, but also better people. In the film, then Ravens' linebacker, Brendon Ayanbadejo, describes Brigance as the "spirit of the Baltimore Ravens."
"He was one of the toughest, strongest warriors to play football in this league and yet by his attitude has been made great through this weakness," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, also seen in the video. Harbaugh added that they are all better individuals because of Brigance's strength and character.
Commenting on how the Brigances' visit inspired her, Christina Weber, MRICD's marketing director said, "It was truly remarkable to hear their story and has shown me that no matter how bad things get, it's our perception and choices that dictate how we live."
The MRICD program also included a reading of the Presidential Proclamation for National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2013, a question and answer session with the Brigances, an awards presentation, and a reception for the couple.
MRICD is a subcommand of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.