O. J. Brigance at APG

O.J. and Chandra Brigance meet with soldiers at Aberdeen Proving Ground where the couple spoke Wednesday at an event honoring the contributions of disabled Americans. (Submitted photo / November 15, 2013)

O.J. and Chanda Brigance, co-founders of the Brigance Brigade Foundation - an organization that supports ALS patients and their families, were the featured guest speakers Wednesday morning at an Aberdeen Proving Ground event honoring the contributions disabled or differently abled Americans make to our country.

The APG program celebrated Americans with disabilities who have not allowed those health challenges to stop them from helping others.

The Brigances spoke about their personal journey from learning about O.J.'s diagnosis with ALS, or Lou Gehrig¹s disease, to creating the Brigance Brigade Foundation.

The Brigances shared with the audience the challenges they have faced and continue to face throughout their lives, and how they now assist others battling ALS.

"O.J. and Chanda Brigance embody a mental, physical, and emotional strength that is not seen in everyday life," said Staff Sergeant Desiree Martin, an active duty Army soldier and the Equal Opportunity Leader for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense at Aberdeen Proving Ground. "Their determination and positivity in the face of the challenges they have encountered is inspiring to see. We are so glad they could join us this morning to honor all those who contribute to our country and help others while suffering from a disability or illness themselves."

The Brigances addressed an audience of soldiers as well as civilians who perform research at the facility.

After the Brigances spoke, they were presented with tokens of thanks from Aberdeen Proving Ground soldiers, including an Army Challenge Coin and plaque, followed by a certificate of appreciation for dedication and outstanding contributions presented to O.J. and Chanda Brigance and to Brigance Brigade Foundation Executive Director Steve Peregoy.

O.J. Brigance is one of the few professional football players to win both a Canadian Football League and National Football League championship and the only one to do it in the same city – Baltimore.

Brigance joined the Ravens in 2000, helped the team claim a Super Bowl victory and now works as senior advisor to player development.

In 2007, Brigance was diagnosed with ALS, a motor neuron disease and has been determined to win his fight against it. O.J. and Chanda created the Brigance Brigade Foundation to equip, encourage and empower people living with ALS.

The foundation strives to improve the quality of life for ALS patients and their families by providing needed equipment, resource guidance and support services, in addition to funding various research initiatives.

For more information on the Brigance Brigade, visit http://www.brigancebrigade.org.