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ALS patient Steven Paul wins IronPigs funeral package

Published On: Aug 22 2013 06:30:31 AM CDT

Meet the winner of the funeral prize

FREEMANSBURG, Pa. -

For 64-year-old Steven Paul, the diagnosis was upsetting, but he wasn't surprised.

"It has robbed me of my strength," he explained. "I can no longer walk without assistance."

His body is ravaged by ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. He got the diagnosis almost three months ago.

"Nobody is ever prepared for their own death," Steven said. "I thought I was bullet proof and invincible."

Two weeks after putting a name to what his body was going through, Steven wrote an essay. He put pen to paper and thought about his own death after hearing about an unusual contest.

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs were giving away a nearly $10,000 funeral package. Some called the promotion macabre and morose. Not Steven.

"This is really something that can be very helpful and very comforting," he said.

It was emotional to write, but the message of his essay was clear.

"I ask for this gift not for myself but for the peace and comfort of my family, who must now deal with a very rapidly approaching time of loss."

The promotion's sponsor, Reichel Funeral Home, chose the Freemansburg man's essay out of more than 50 submissions.

"I was personally looking to help a family in need," added Reichel. "It feels good."

Steven calls winning a mixed blessing, though he's comforted his family will not be burdened by funeral expenses.

"Knowing that I can have everything in place before the time comes," described Steven, "and knowing that my wishes will be upheld, and that my family will not have to worry or question anything is an enormous relief."

As part of the contest, he had to detail his ideal funeral. Steven says it will definitely be a celebration.

"People will come together to laugh and to remember things, tell anecdotes, maybe cry a little bit, but be there to support each other."

ALS affects everyone differently, and Steven says the doctors haven't given him a prognosis. But he's fighting, and doesn't plan on cashing in his prize anytime soon.

"I plan on being quite old when I use it," he added with a smile.