Joe Martin

On Any Given Day

Joe Martin has ALS and can barely move a muscle, yet he is inspirational to all of us. Every day with Joe offers the joys of living and the triumph of the spirit. God's greatest gift to man is the brain, and Joe exemplifies the brain in magnificent solo flight. His courage and wit shine through in every way and on every page. Joe is truly my hero, and I feel privileged to know him. --Dr. Stanley H. Appel, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology and Director of the MDA/ALS Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine

On Any Given Day is a contemporary profile in courage. Joe Martin's quest for racial reconciliation, while he clings doggedly to life, proves again that fact is more inspiring than fiction. --Hugh B. Price, President, National Urban League, Inc.

On November 22, 1998, Joe Martin maneuvered his motorized chair to his desk and to the computer that let him type by bouncing an infrared beam off his eye as he looked at a keyboard on the screen. ALS--Lou Gehrig's disease--had deprived him of nearly all his muscle control. But ALS does not affect the mind, and his mind now was filled with anger and determination.

Like millions of Americans, Joe had just watched a 60 Minutes program in which Jack Kevorkian "euthanized" a man. The man had Lou Gerhig's disease and had begun to lose hope--just as Joe once had. But instead of helping the man recover from the trauma of his condition, Kevorkian had helped him abandon hope. Whatever good that man might have accomplished--whatever purpose the rest of his life might have held--was gone in the plunge of Dr. Death's syringe.

Joe Martin had already outlived one doctor's prognosis by more than two years. He was still building a career as what his boss called the "conscience" of the largest bank in the United States. Since being diagnosed with ALS, he'd helped start the Southeast's first comprehensive center for ALS research and patient care. He'd begun a movement to improve race relations in the Carolinas. Now, he was writing a book.

Joe wanted that book to tell people with serious problems not how to die but how to live. He wanted to tell them how, on any given day, people could not predict what might be possible with the help of understanding doctors, family members, and friends and the oversight of a loving God.

That night, focusing on each letter, comma, and space with his eyes, Joe composed an e-mail to his collaborator on the book. The man on television, he wrote, had died not from ALS but from hopelessness and terror.

"Hopelessness and terror are both curable," the e-mail said. "Write faster!"

about the authors
Joe Martin holds a doctorate in English from Duke University. He helped engineer North Carolina National Bank's expansion into Florida, the initial step in creating Bank of America, the nation's first coast-to-coast banking corporation. He is a recipient of the Urban League's Whitney M. Young Award and the Echo Foundation's Humanitarian Award.

Ross Yockey is the author of numerous nonfiction books, among them biographies of Hugh McColl, Zubin Mehta, and Andre Previn. An Emmy Award winner, he has written extensively for television. He has also written documentary films, one of which was a winner at the New York International Film Festival.

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