Dying Fla. State Law Prof Teaches Students How to Live
Posted Apr 10, 2009, 05:29 pm CDT
By Martha Neil
Although Steven Gey is in the final stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease, he is still teaching students in the third year of a terminal illness that his doctors expect to end his life soon.
And the lessons they are learning from the famous Florida State University constitutional law expert are memorable ones, reports the St. Petersburg Times.
Recently, for the third year in a row, Gey’s students participated in a triathlon to raise $50,000 for research into the muscle-wasting, paralyzing malady. Then they held a 53rd birthday party for Gey, who—in a feat of athleticism as least as great as theirs—untethered his respirator, got out of bed, and walked onto the porch of his home to participate in the event. Although his hands don’t work any more, Gey has recently completed two 150-page constitutional works, wielding a computer mouse with his toes.
Third-year student David Gillis used to think more of the money he could make as a lawyer than the positive impact he could have as a member of a noble profession. But knowing Gey—to whom he delivers food every week—has changed that, Gillis’ mother says. And it has changed her, too, encouraging her, like her son and his dying professor, to focus on and enjoy the truly important things in life.
“We’ve learned that’s what life is about—passion,” Cathy Gills says.