There are so many things the Ducks Organization does for the community but to me one of the best ones is the 21st Duck when they honor a person that deserves to be recognized whether it’s a kid fighting through diagnosed with cancer or illness.
YouTube Videos of Michael Lu
The Enterance of the 21st Duck Michael Lu
Michael Lu on NHL Now
Here is the Ducks aticle they posted about the 21st Duck and 2018-19 21st Duck Michael Lu and his story: I give the credit to this article to Jenelyn Russo and putting this in a way that was so perfectly said.
I can’t say this any better than the way the Ducks did and here are the article they wrote on Michael Lu the 21st Duck:
Inspiration Lu Lives ‘A Dream Come True’ as the 21st Duck by Jenelyn Russo
He was only 17 years old when the tremors started.
But Michael Lu was a high school athlete, a swimmer, who also played water polo. And he was a hockey player. Active and strong.
So Lu didn’t think much of the mild shaking he felt when he would get out of the pool. He attributed the symptoms to adrenaline, nerves or anxiousness. And after receiving a benign essential tremor diagnosis, he brushed it all aside.
Lu continued to push the intermittent shaking to the back of his mind until three years ago, when his then 21-year old brother, Matthew, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“It was then that I realized I probably had Parkinson’s, but I didn’t feel the need [at the time] to go get re-diagnosed,” Lu said. “No matter what it was, I didn’t want to let it stop me from doing the things that I love.”
One of those things is playing hockey.
A bundle of energy as a young child, Lu’s mother knew early on that she had to get her son into sports. She chose the fast-paced game of hockey, and Lu got his start in roller hockey at the age of four, later transitioning to ice hockey in middle school.
“I loved it,” Lu said. “I loved the challenge.”
The West Covina resident continued to play in-house and select league hockey out of Disney Ice (before it was The Rinks – Anaheim Ice) through high school, alongside swimming and water polo, sometimes going straight from the pool to the rink in the same night.
Lu stayed with water sports through college and kept his hockey skills up by playing in local adult leagues. He spent focused time training at the gym, even competing in several triathlons.
But the symptoms continued. Intermittent shaking gave way to constant tremors. Lu’s balance began to fail him. It was then, about a year ago, that Lu’s girlfriend, Thalia Zavala, encouraged him to seek an actual diagnosis.
And in January of this year, after meeting with doctors, seeking second opinions and running several tests, Lu received confirmation of what he admits he deep down already knew. He was living with Parkinson’s disease.
But despite being given such life-changing news, that broad, infectious smile of Lu’s has not left his face.
“All I can do is take what I have at the moment, live life to the fullest, be grateful for what I have today and not worry about tomorrow,” said Lu, who was 28 when he received the diagnosis.
Lu’s approach of squeezing the most out of life involves passing on his love for hockey to the next generation of players. As an instructor at The Rinks, Lu works with young kids learning the game through the Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play Hockey program, powered by Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. He teaches beginners the basic fundamentals of skating, passing and shooting, all in a fun environment.
“The biggest part is just to have fun and show the culture of hockey,” Lu said. “Enjoy the fall and learn how to get back up on your skates.”
When the Ducks began seeking nominations for this year’s 21st Duck, an honor that goes to a fan who shows “perseverance, character, courage and inspiration,” Zavala got the idea to nominate Michael.
“He’s not one to tell people [about having Parkinson’s] because he’s so optimistic about it,” Zavala said. “What better way for him to finally feel confident enough to tell his story than by doing it with the Ducks.”
When Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf paid Lu a recent visit at Anaheim Ice to inform him that he was selected as the team’s 21st Duck, the news knocked Lu off his skates – literally.
“Honestly, I couldn’t even stand. It was such a shock,” Lu said. “Since I can remember walking or skating, I’ve always been a fan of the Ducks. I grew up watching Steve Rucchin, Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne. It was just a wonderful feeling to be given that platform to share my story.”
That platform includes serving on the board of directors of Parkinson’s Resource Organization (parkinsonsresource.org), where he works to break the stereotype that Parkinson’s is a disease that affects only the elderly. He wants to see a cure. And he wants people to know that his disease doesn’t define him.
“I feel that with this opportunity with the Ducks, I can truly spread awareness,” Lu said.
Lu joined the Ducks at Honda Center recently for practice, where he laced up his skates and took to the ice, spending time meeting the players and taking some shots on net.
And on October 8th, as part of the club’s 25th Anniversary home opener against the Detroit Red Wings, Lu joined the Ducks Opening Night roster and skated to center ice to the cheers of the crowd, his stick held high, his smile as big as his heart.
“I couldn’t have written a script any better than how this has played out for me,” Lu said. “I wish every fan could experience this. It’s truly a dream come true.”
The timeline for Parkinson’s is different for each person affected, and while Lu’s symptoms have stabilized in recent months, he is aware of the likely progression that lies in front of him.
Now 29 years old, Lu has chosen to forgo medication at this point in exchange for maintaining his energy. In addition to teaching hockey, Lu works for the Fullerton School District and is working on his master’s degree in educational psychology. He has plans to travel, snowboard, help kids and continue spreading awareness of his disease. And he wants to play hockey, for as long as his body will allow.
But most of all, Lu wants to live his life and live it well.
“I do realize my time may be limited,” Lu said. “I don’t know what’s in store for me. I’m just thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had up to this point. I’ll take it one day at a time from here…one snowboarding trip at a time…one hockey game at a time.”
Blog post coming up next…
This season marks the 25th Anniversary of the Anaheim Ducks franchise. It is going to be a season filled with many surprises and who knows maybe one of those many surprises might be going far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs!!!!
LET’S GO DUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Sources: Anaheim Ducks Player News- Ducks Daily and Twitter @AnaheimDucks
Sources are all by The Anaheim Ducks/ anaheimducks.com
Source: Jenelyn Russo- Inspiration Lu Lives ‘A Dream Come True’ as the 21st Duck
Video source: YouTube posted by NHL
Photos by The Anaheim Ducks