Steinbrenner HS students pitch in to help beloved teacher with ALS

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Students, staff, and faculty at Tampa’s Steinbrenner High School are coming together to help a popular teacher.

Social studies teacher Mike Leist was recently diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ( ALS) better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Leist’s wife Lisabeth is also a teacher at the school and their daughters attend the school.

On Friday, students held a kickball fundraiser for Leist.

“We just hope that hope will come really soon. So, with ALS you’re always working against a timeline. The average life expectancy with ALS is 2 to 5 years,”  said Lisabeth Leist.

Mike Leist is already slowed by the disease, but he rolled out the first pitch for the game.

“It’s amazing, it’s humbling and I’m very grateful that we are where we are,” said Mike.

Senior, Virginia Howell helped plan the event. “This event showcases the love our school has for one another,” said Howell.

Millions of dollars poured in for A.L.S. research with the viral fundraiser, the “Ice Bucket challenge”.

The quirky internet event actually gave hope to people with A.L.S. for the first time.

“In the last two years thanks to Ice Bucket challenge, three new genes have been discovered. There’s also a new drug that’s in trial now and another new drug set to be in clinical trials for next year,” said Julie Niehoff with the ALS Association of Florida.

Funds from the event at the school will help the Leist family cope with the costs of the disease.

Anyone with questions about the event, or who would like to make a donation is asked to contact teacher Bev Jarrett at the school (813) 924-0711. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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