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Heat's Udonis Haslem looks to make acting debut in ALS film

Miami music-video director Gil Green is within $3,000 of his Kickstarter goal to make “Who is Lou Gehrig?,” a short film about local youth sports coach Jeff Fogel’s life with ALS. The film will mark the acting debut of Miami Heat star Udonis Haslem.

Green and Fogel met as teenagers coaching youth basketball at Michael-Ann Russell JCC in North Miami Beach. Green went on to become an in-demand video director whose 305 Films has created several signature videos for the Miami Heat, as well as visuals for music by Diddy, Kanye West, Matisyahu, John Legend, Usher, Drake, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Flo Rida and Pitbull.

Green decided to use his skills for a different cause when Fogel told him he had Amyotrphic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease.

“Being diagnosed with a terminal illness must have been the scariest moment in Jeff's life,” Green says on his Kickstarter page. “Some people would understandably allow this news to depress them, taking away their reason to live to the fullest. For Jeff, it was the opposite. Jeff used the news to motivate himself and put all his effort into maintaining his role as the coach of his girl's basketball team, staying active in the community and inspiring everyone around him.”

More than a movie about ALS, Green believes  “Who is Lou Gehrig?” is a “universal tale of the mind and spirit.”

 “I don't want to make a film that feels like a ‘sad story’ PSA or makes anyone feel sorry for Jeff. I want to highlight his incredible personality and allow viewers to get in his head and see how he faces these challenges by weaving in and out of reality.”

Another friend, Haslem, has agreed to play himself in one of Fogel’s imaginary scenes. Haslem also is helping to produce the film.

Haslem says he’s avoided acting but decided this cause was too close to him and too important. But Hollywood stars should not lose sleep, he says.

“I’m completely inspired by Jeff’s story and how he’s been able to persevere,” he says in the Kickstarter video. “I just want to be a part of it and do my best ... I don’t know about Denzel, but I’m going to give it my best.”

The Kickstarter effort must raise $60,000 by Thursday afternoon. There are a variety of Heat and Haslem items available at different donation levels. Hit the link for more information on the “Who is Lou Gehrig?” Kickstarter campaign.

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