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Spark of Hope Story: Tim Baird

Tim Baird, diagnosed with bulbar onset ALS in 2022, has found solace and support in the compassionate care provided by The ALS Treatment Center at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown. Describing the medical institution as a “community of encouragement,” Tim emphasizes the invaluable combination of professional skills that extend beyond physical assistance to encompass crucial mental support. “The professionals at LVHN and at ALS United Mid-Atlantic have become like family to me,” says Tim.

Early in his business career, Tim realized that his true passion lay in bringing people together and finding ways to bring joy to others. Opting for a career change, he pursued his dream of becoming a gym teacher. A serendipitous encounter at East Stroudsburg University led to a sudden opening for a graduate assistant position, propelling Tim into a fulfilling career in physical education.

As a gym teacher, Tim discovered the concept of “New Games,” a welcoming approach to engage individuals in fun and interactive group activities. These games, designed for all ages, became a hit with high school students. Even in retirement, Tim continued to promote New Games, organizing gatherings with around 30 friends, creating days filled with laughter, competition, and cooperation.

Some of Tim’s favorite New Games include musical backs, elephants and giraffes, quail shooters delight, and group juggling. The motto of New Games, “Play hard, play fair, nobody hurt,” encapsulates the spirit of these activities that promote inclusivity and enjoyment.

In the absence of frequent gatherings, Tim hosts game days with 8-12 participants, featuring board games, card games, and, of course, New Games. Despite the challenges posed by his inability to speak, Tim finds that there are no barriers when immersed in the joy of board games and New Games. These activities provide a platform for individuals to connect, share laughter, and revel in the love of the game.

Through games, ALS is no longer a barrier. Tim’s positive attitude shows that gaming is for everyone. His party nights are welcoming, inclusive, and life-affirming.

Tim’s favorite board games, including Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, Death on the Cards, and Sideshow Swap, showcase his enduring passion for play, demonstrating that, as author George Sheehan once said, “Play is where life lives.” In the face of ALS, Tim continues to find joy, connection, and a sense of community through the power of games. His friends and family are ready to pull up a chair, roll the dice, and enjoy games and life together.

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