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    Purcellville’s Murray family make memories in the face of ALS

    Courtesy photo/Dena Murray
    When Michael Murray of Purcellville was diagnosed with amyotrphic lateral sclerosis, a neuro-degenerative disease effecting motor movement, he and his family made a bucket list of memories they want to make with the time they have.

    As a longtime Washington Redskins fan, one of Murray's bucket list items was to meet quarterback Robert Griffin Junior III of the Redskins. And as of Dec. 12, he can cross that item off his list.

    Weeks previous, Dena Murray's friend Kathy Weir texted her asking if there was anything she could do to make one of Michael Murray's bucket list items come true. Weir had been reading Dena Murray's blog, michaelfightsals.com.

    Murray jokingly asked if she knew anyone on the Redskins, never expecting that Weir would go on a crusade to make it happen.

    Weir ended up connecting with Karen Harman of Aldie, the mother of 14-year-old NFL Together We Make Football finalist Karlie Harman, who had connections with the Washington Redskin's Vice President Tony Wyllie.

    Wyllie, Weir and Dena Murray set up the time and place. Dena Murray told her husband the family was going to lunch. Instead, they took him to FedEx Field in Maryland.

    Mike Murray got the chance to meet RGIII as well as players like fullback Derrel Young and running back Alfred Morris.

    “I was just excited,” Mike Murray said. “Meeting the players you watch every Sunday and seeing they're more than just athletes, that they care about causes and people when you get to talk to them. That was the most interesting part.”

    For Dena Murray, the most moving part was seeing RGIII shake Mike Murray's hand. It was the first time he'd shaken anyone with his right hand in a year, as he can no longer lift it.

    The Murrays have been overwhelmed by the kindness shown to them through anonymous donations since Mike Murray was diagnosed with the disease in 2013. On Dec. 15, a woman came to the door calling herself their Secret Santa and gave them a gift basket full of money.

    “It's nice that our kids are seeing the kindness of strangers, and I hope that they pay it back [one day],” Dena Murray said. “I hope one day I can do something really wonderful for someone and pay it forward.”

    The donations go a long way toward saving up to buy a handicap van to transport Murray and his wheelchair, which will allow him to go to church and local events and make more memories with his family.


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