Team Blazeman and Need2Tri Join Up

This week I start a new endeavor and I encourage you all to be a part of it. Today I will begin to help the war on ALS. As friends and family, I ask you all to help me in this effort first and foremost by taking time to read this full post. If you feel called to action, I commend you. If you don’t, I want to say thank you for taking the time to read and become aware of this dreadful disease.

War on ALS The word is freedom…Freedom from ALS.
The goal…to Destroy ALS.

Nick’s Story

Nick with his Fantasy Football Trophy

Nick with his Fantasy Football Trophy
I never met anyone more passionate and knowledgeable about the world of sports than Nick Huber. I met Nick early in college when we both declared as Communication majors early in our time at Luther College. Nick was witty, cynical and always had a smile on his face. Was just a joy to be around.

We engaged more as the years at Luther went on. We worked together at KWLC, Luther’s radio station. We had the best work study jobs on campus as Nick was the Sports Director and I was the Production Manager. Nick would also broadcast the majority of Luther’s sports. This varied from basketball to baseball to football to soccer. It could have been Ping Pong and Nick could add his unbelievable knowledge of the sport with his detailed study of player stats and information. He kept the show flowing and was probably the only broadcaster I have ever listened to that could keep me fully engaged without a TV in front of my face.

We also had fond memories working together on a local ESPN News sports break. I still get a smile on my face as I remember Nick’s witty humor showing up on the local cable station each Sat. morning.

Nick started dating Ann, a close friend of both my wife Cathy and I, and we couldn’t be more ecstatic. We were excited to begin sharing memories as couples. Nick moved to St. Peter, MN after graduating to take a role as the Assistant Sports Information Director at Gustavus Adolphus College. Ann worked as a nurse and lived in Hudson. I can vividly remember picking Nick up on the way to the Minnesota Vikings training camp. It was an absolute blast having Nick there to provide his football insight and hilarious side comments.

Cathy and I had an amazing wedding that Nick and Ann were a part of in June 2003 (Ann was a bridesmaid). We planned another gathering soon but couldn’t swing a date that summer. Nick proposed to Ann and began preparations for a wonderful wedding.

We finally were able to connect in October of 2003 for the Minnesota Vikings vs. Denver Broncos football game. As a Broncos fan, Nick was on his game. The insults were flying prior to the weekend. Ann and Nick came up early to spend some time with us. We met at Chili’s in Burnsville, MN and I won’t forget the change in mood from going in the door to walking out of it.

Nick shared the news that he had ALS and was given three to five years to live. Cathy and I didn’t know how to respond. We cried that night…we stayed strong for Nick and Ann…and we began to deal with the fact that our time with Nick was limited.

We made the most of that weekend. Nick and I played catch while tailgating for over an hour. It is probably one of my favorite memories of Nick. It was just him and I in an empty parking lot throwing around the Pigskin and ribbing each other about whose team was about to win. ALS did not steal that experience from us.

Cathy and I did our best to see Nick and Ann over the coming years but my biggest regret is that we did not take initiative to visit them more often. We had a wonderful visit out to Colorado in 2004 where we went to Red Rock and we hiked with Nick and Ann to the top of the Continental Divide and Mountain Range there. What a wonderful trip. We went down to visit Nick and Ann a few times at their new home in Iowa. We always made sure to bring Nick’s favorite food. Chipotle. I’m sure Cathy will vividly remember when she brought a burrito without Nick’s favorite green salsa. The face Nick gave her is one I’ll never forget.

Nick’s condition worsened over the years. Our interaction began picking up as I helped him create his blog at Nick Ann Street. We shared comments about recent sporting events and kept up on the progression of this horrible disease.

There certainly were lighter notes. Nick continued to be a part of our fantasy football league. He won our inaugural year that you’ll see up above with his wonderful Bobblehead trophy. He would send his smack via e-mail and photos like the one above…always generating smiles from the league. I’ll miss that.

In early July 2008, Nick and Ann were returning home following a high school reunion when they were hit by a drunk driver. Nick broke several vertebrae in his back and was placed in a halo. While he seemed to be improving, the progression of his disease along with the injuries sustained in the accident, Nick passed away early the morning of July 19th, 2008. As his wife Ann so poignantly stated, “Nick is running with the angels.” I’m sure he is. And when he’s not running, I’m sure he’s in the press booth calling the game.

I roll for you Nick. Every race I compete in for the rest of my life will be finished in memory of you…rolling over the finish. While you may have lost your battle, you fought so others could win the war. We will win this war…in your honor.

Scott’s Story

I had the opportunity to work with Kirsten for a short time when I worked for Accenture. She was a wonderful person in our limited interaction and I have kept up as much as I can on Scott’s battle with ALS. It is striking to me the similarities in my life to Scott’s. I have a wonderful daughter born in April, a caring wife and another child on the way. But this warrior deals with these struggles on a daily basis. His humor and perseverance through this horrible disease has been inspiration. I roll for you Scott.

Jon’s Story

I first heard about Jon Blais’ struggle while watching coverage of the 2006 Ironman where Brian Breen ran in Jon’s place for the full Ironman event. With the personal touch that Nick has given me around ALS, Jon’s story touched me. When I became determined to commit my training to a noble cause, Team Blazeman was a perfect fit.

When I began exploring the possibility of joining Team Blazeman and working to build awareness, I sent an e-mail to the Blazeman organization with a few basic questions. Within hours, Bob Blais, Jon’s father, had given me a call. Bob and I talked for close to 45 minutes about Jon, about Nick and about the war that we have ahead of us to defeat this disease. Bob told me about Jon’s first love which was teaching those in need. He talked about his passion for the movie Braveheart and how he used this motivational movie as a springboard in his fight for ALS.

Jon shared several passions that I have including a love of poetry and multi-sport events. The video above shows how he used both of these to bring awareness to the disease that had so affected his life.

Jon completed a full Ironman in Hawaii in 2005, five months after he was diagnosed. This is a feat that I have not seen in my life. When the movie Gladiator ends, there is a quote that Jon’s family has shared.

What we do in life, echos in eternity.

Certainly Jon’s echo was loud and strong. Thousands of athletes like myself have begun to share his message and to continue to wage the war he so valiantly fought. I roll for you Jon.

What You Can Do
DONATE: As part of joining the Team Blazeman organization, I have agreed to raise funds that are used for a variety of ALS research and awareness activities. Bob Blais talked about the great efforts around harvesting and dispersing ALS tissue to assist ALS researchers to have the best tools to help battle this disease. I committed to raise over $1,000 in 2009 and need your help to get there.

Please Donate Here

RACE WITH ME: All you endurance athletes from 5k to marathon, from sprint triathlete to Ironman, I would love for you all to join me in this effort. You can join the Need2Tri team. Team Blazeman ranges in cost for $50 to $250 and includes a variety of gear to help you share the message. Fundraising commitment ranges from $0 to $1,000. Below is the link to the team’s site. If you do decide to join, make sure to join team Need2Tri. Please contact me at with any questions.

Team Blazeman Registration

I am currently scheduled for the following events this season:
5/9 New Prague Half Marathon
6/14 Fairmont Triathlon
6/28 Lake Waconia
7/26 Chisago Lakes Sprint
8/23 St. Paul Triathlon
9/13 Burrito 10 Hour Triathlon
10/31 Monster Dash Half Marathon

Please let me know if you can attend and help cheer on the Need2Tri team and raise ALS awareness. If you are unable to attend, mark your calendars and say a few prayers and send a few thoughts my way.

Now give your eyes a rest. Thank you so much for reading through this and helping me on this journey. Don’t hesitate to e-mail me or keep an eye on my triathlon training at

God Bless,
Joel Haugen


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