My partner Randy died of ALS nearly a year ago. His fight was a long one — nine years. We moved to Boston from New York City in 2008 and soon thereafter Randy became a Patriots fan.
He was 41 when he died and he was, just like the Patriots, a fighter. Like the Patriots, Randy was also focused, scrappy, quick, smart, resourceful and determined.
Before the Ice Bucket Challenge ALS had low awareness so Randy and I became ALS advocates. In 2013 we took our personal story public and in one interview the reporter happened to mention to Randy that he looked like Tom Brady. Even with the effects of ALS, Randy was still handsome and he did in fact look like Tom. When Randy heard this he beamed with pride. I will never forget that moment.
When Tom cut his hair shot, Randy cut his hair the same way. Every Sunday, we watched the Patriots play and followed every twist and turn of every game. It was like our life and ALS battle, a fight to the finish. Sometimes we won, sometimes we lost, but most importantly we never gave up. To us it was all about the long-game. We kept going, we had no choice.
So, as I watched the Patriots play and win an almost supernatural game of football in Super Bowl XLIX, I thought of Randy. I remembered, last season, when the Patriots lost the playoffs and when he confidently said: “don’t worry babe, the Patriots are going to win the Super Bowl next year.”
This year, my brother Scott was lucky enough to be at the game in Arizona. At halftime, he texted me and said it felt like the stadium was filled with mostly Seahawks fans. He was nervous. Scott loves the Patriots like Randy did. Scott also loved Randy. I sent him a note back: “they are going to win because Randy said.” I could hear Randy’s voice in my head and throughout the rest of the game, I was pretty confident. Even in the last 60 seconds, I wasn’t giving up… Then a miracle happened, and the Patriots won. As soon as the game ended I texted Scott back with the message: “Randy said!” He texted me to say: “I’m crying.” It proved to me in life and death, Randy was and is a true Patriots fan. Like life and death, the Patriots didn’t give up. They kept fighting and, this time, they won!
Mark Malinowski is a marketing executive and continues the fight against ALS begun by his partner Randy Pipkin.