ALS Awareness Takes Center Court at NCAA Men’s Final Four

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The San Diego State University (SDSU) Aztecs’ run in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament is historic for many reasons. It is the school’s first Final Four appearance for one, and the first Mountain West Conference team to ever advance to the event. But for the ALS community, the team’s success has taken on even more significance.

Diagnosed with ALS in 2011, SDSU’s Assistant Coach, Mark Fisher, has helped lead the Aztecs to eight consecutive 20-win seasons during his career, an incredible accomplishment for any coach. And now, adding to his list of accolades, Mark will become the first known person living with ALS to coach in a Final Four when the Aztecs take on the Owls of Florida Atlantic University tomorrow night in Houston.

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Mark is the son of longtime SDSU head coach, Steve Fisher, who retired at the end of the 2016-2017 season. Mark has been part of the SDSU program for 21 years and has served as assistant to the head coach for ten seasons. “I’m happy for Mark and the opportunity he has to make it to Houston,” said Steve. “Living with ALS has its challenges, but life is for living. He’s continued to coach, and we’re excited for all that he has accomplished.”

During the NCAA tournament, the SDSU coaching staff has worn ALS Association lapel pins, as they have all season long to help raise awareness of the disease. The university and the Mountain West Conference have also shown support for ALS and The ALS Association’s campaign to “make ALS livable until we can cure it.”

Mark is a critical part of this team and we’re all so grateful he’s able to make it to Houston. Aztec Basketball has supported the fight against ALS all season and we will at the Final Four, as well. We all play a role in this fight.”
Brian Dutcher
Head coach of SDSU

In honor of Mark, everyone involved with the Aztec program has been tremendous supporters of the fight against ALS for years, taking part in the Walk to Defeat ALS® as a team even during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s all about teamwork, and that’s why Aztec basketball is walking as a team,” said Brian. “We all play a role: it’s research, it’s physicians, and it’s those who can help raise money.”

“The support for Mark throughout the San Diego and SDSU communities has been inspiring,” said Steve Becvar, Vice President of Sports & Entertainment at The ALS Association. “His annual ‘Aztecs Fighting ALS’ Walk team is one of the top supported teams. Mark is proving that you keep moving forward and live life to the fullest with ALS. And now he’s coaching a team making a historic run in the NCAA tournament.” 

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So, as you tune in to enjoy the Final Four this weekend with the roughly 12 million others watching, pay special attention to those shiny red and sliver lapel pins on the SDSU coaching staff as you cheer them on, knowing that they, like us, are doing whatever it takes to make ALS livable for everyone, everywhere, until we find a cure.

You can make a donation to Mark Fisher’s “Aztecs Fighting ALS” Walk to Defeat ALS team at ALS.org/Aztecs.

To continue following stories about people living with ALS in the community and learn more about the disease, subscribe to receive our weekly blogs in your inbox HERE or follow us at als.org/blog.

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