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October Volunteer of the Month: Genia Miller

Nearly 85 years after he retired from baseball, Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech continues to inspire generations of people. That includes not only our October 2023 Volunteer of the Month Genia Miller, but hundreds of her students who have volunteered with her to support the ALS cause for over 15 years.

As an English teacher at Saucon Valley High School, Genia Miller is always encouraging her students to appreciate both the written and spoken word. Genia looks for stories that will engage her classes and get them to participate in discussion.

In 2007, Genia taught a lesson on the book Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. The story of lessons from Morrie’s journey with ALS would start a new ALS journey for Genia and her students as they became inspired to do something to support the cause in their community.

Genia also taught a class on public speaking and had a lesson on Lou Gehrig’s famous farewell speech. As she discussed the speech with her students, she learned that many of them had an ALS connection in their family.

The ALS connections continued to grow at Saucon Valley High School. Following the lesson on Tuesdays with Morrie in 2007, Genia invited Maia Gieger, the wife of one of her colleagues, to speak to the class about her own father’s battle with ALS. Maia also told the class about her involvement in the Lehigh Valley Walk to Defeat ALS. The students wanted to help, and seven members of the class joined the Walk that year.

In 2008, the number of volunteers from Saucon Valley High School surprised even Genia. 30 students came together at the Lehigh Valley Walk to Defeat ALS to distribute shirts, paint lines, set up the walk course, hand out drinks, and cheer on the teams. Those classroom lessons became an inspiration as the students began a yearly tradition.

Since that first Walk, Genia estimates that nearly 200 students from her school have participated in the Lehigh Valley Walk to Defeat ALS. Some have joined their own family teams and other students have come back to the Walk even after they graduated.

Those years of volunteering and raising money add up to success for the ALS mission. Funding from events like the Walk to Defeat ALS has allowed the local care team to increase access to home care, invest in the ALS Treatment Center at Lehigh Valley Health Network, and advance research, which includes three new treatments that have been approved for ALS since 2017.

While Genia is excited for the continued progress for the ALS cause, she also looks back with pride and gratitude at the many students and families who have made a difference locally. Genia remembers when a group of football players from the school came to the Walk the day after a big game and when senior girls came to paint the faces of young children on Walk day. In 2022, a team of wrestlers joined the effort as well, giving the team added strength.

Today, Genia continues to be inspired and motivated both by the ALS cause and by the volunteer spirit of her students. Genia is a member of the Sunshine Club, which does good deeds for the community. Her students have helped by collecting warm clothing for people in need for the colder months, showing the character of Saucon Valley High School.

Each year, Genia teaches lessons on Tuesdays with Morrie and Lou Gehrig’s famous speech. She explains to her students that ALS doesn’t discriminate and that people like them could be the ones to one day discover a cure. Genia says that she learns as much from her students as they learn from her, and they work together to think about how they can make a difference for others for many years to come.

Thank you to Genia Miller for inspiring so many people to take the ALS cause to heart and for helping to create the next generation of ALS leaders. Together we are united as one team to care for all people affected by ALS.

Some examples of the great volunteer support from Genia’s students from Saucon Valley High School over the years.

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