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The rest of the story

Matt Mooney | Tuesday, November 18, 2003

On Sunday afternoon, the Siegfried Ramblers had every reason to play for themselves. The championship game victory over Dillon marked the Ramblers’ third straight stadium appearance and second straight championship. By interhall football standards, that is a dynasty. And everyone knows most players involved in a dynasty begin asking for outrageously selfish perks like parietal exemptions and catered press box lunches. But yesterday afternoon, these men of Siegfried were not just playing for themselves. They were also playing for their Owner.Raymond Siegfried II attended Notre Dame from 1961 to 1965. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and in 1969 founded a small business with his father called The Nordam Group. Since then, The Nordam Group has done slightly well, now grossing over $1 billion a year. Yeah, slightly well. Ray and his wife Milann also have five children, many of whom followed in his footsteps to Our Lady’s University. Yet despite all his individual success, Ray still remains intimately affiliated with the University, sitting on the Board of Trustees and donating generous sums of money. One such donation resulted in the construction of a dorm just north of the library. You don’t need to play 20 Questions to figure out which one.Sunday afternoon, the Ray Siegfried Ramblers played in the House that Rockne built with the sleeves of their maroon jerseys adorned with the initials RHS. You see, last year Ray was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. For the uninformed, you can’t cure this disease with flu shots in the library. You can’t cure it with anything. ALS gradually kills off the nerve cells that control muscle function. During this process, the victim’s mind remains sharp as a tack, only able to watch as one limb after another becomes useless and limp. The disease is terminal.For the past two years, Ray has been a fixture on the Rambler sidelines, and the players affectionately dubbed him “The Owner.” And this owner treats his players like kings. When the Ramblers clinched a Stadium berth in 2001 and 2002, Ray picked up the check after taking the entire team out to dinner. With the gratitude of escaping North Dining Hall, it’s no wonder the team has only lost two games in the last three years. However, Ray began to make fewer sideline appearances. In about a year’s time, ALS had forced him from walking the sidelines to breathing out of a tube. There was no dinner trip this year, but Ray’s inspiring email to the team was just as motivational, though less tasty.It was all they would need. With “Ray” written on his taped wrists, cornerback John Lira helped the Siegfried team follow through with its mission for the season – to Repeat for Ray. With all due respect to the Gipper, this one was for the Owner.