On Thursday former Pittsburgh Steelers lineman and longtime Steelers broadcaster Tunch Ilkin announced he’s been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. In the wake of this awful news, there’s been an outpouring of prayers and support from the Steelers family and media community.
Here’s a sampling of the messages that have been sent since he went public with his diagnosis.
Chris Adamski, Steelers reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, said that Ilkin is “one of the nicest, kindest souls” he has ever met and encouraged people to pray for him.
Tunch is easily one of the 10 nicest, kindest souls I have ever met in any walk of life. He's asking for prayers, please oblige him
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) October 9, 2020
Teresa Varley of Steelers.com echoed those thoughts, saying that Tunch is “an incredible human being. All we can do right now to help him is pray, so please take a minute and do that.”
Tunch Ilkin is an amazing person, just an incredible human being. All we can do right now to help him is pray, so please take a minute and do that.
Bless you, Tunch. https://t.co/4zr9sWU4ko
— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) October 9, 2020
Likewise, KDKA-TV Sports Director Bob Pompeani, encourages everyone to pray for Ilkin.
God bless Tunch Ilkin 🙏🏻🙏🏻 He is fighting ALS. His great Faith and Attitude will guide him thru. Pray for Tunch https://t.co/MjftLr82fl
— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) October 9, 2020
For his part, Gerry Dulac, who covers the Steelers for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, put out a hopeful message, advising us that “Tunch is the most mentally strong and spiritually empowered person I know. If anyone is capable of dealing with this insidious disease it is Tunch.”
My thoughts and prayers are w my friend Tunch Ilkin and his family. Tunch is the most mentally strong and spiritually empowered person I know. If anyone is capable of dealing w this insidious disease it is Tunch. 🙏
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) October 9, 2020
Finally, Steelers right tackle Zach Banner—who plays the same position that Tunch Ilkin once manned—said he’s heartbroken about the news.
Tunch being diagnosed with ALS broke my heart this morning…
But he’s a Steeler forever… We are built to beat the things that life throws at us…
Myself, the entire oline, and the rest of the Pittsburgh Steeler organization has his back and sends our regards!
— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) October 9, 2020
Colin Dunlap, host of the 93.7 The Fan morning show in Pittsburgh, reminds Steelers fans that Ilkin’s voice is “part of the soundtrack to [their] fandom.”
I don’t know Tunch well. Talked just a few times. But he was so kind and wonderful. So welcoming.
Like many, his voice is part of the soundtrack of my fandom. Tailgate parties, games, hearing him blare through the speakers leaving the stadium.
Have to say, really down about this.
— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) October 9, 2020
Thinking along those lines, one Steelers fan wrote that Ilkin “may be one of the kindest, gentle, humble men I have never personally met. And yet, I feel like I know him.”
Tunch Ilkin may be may favorite Steeler who never won a Super Bowl. He is on the broadcast team for the Steelers and may be one of the kindest, gentle, humble men I have never personally met. And yet, I feel like I know him. He is also a brother in Christ.
— Dan Keefer (@dan_keefer) October 9, 2020
Tunch Ilkin’s Career as a Steelers Player, Broadcaster
Ilkin played 12 seasons for the Steelers (1980-1992). During that time he started 143 of 176 games and was selected to the Pro Bowl twice.
He was drafted by the Steelers in the sixth round of the 1980 NFL Draft out of Indiana State.
After his playing career came to an end Ilkin moved into broadcasting and became a part of the Steelers radio network team in 1998. Since 2005, Ilkin has shared the booth with Bill Hillgrove, with former Steelers lineman and longtime friend Craig Wolfley also an integral part of the radio broadcasts.
Ilkin’s wife Sharon passed away in 2012 at the age of 55 after a battle with breast cancer.
According to the Mayo Clinic, ALS is a progressive nervous system disease that affects control of the muscles needed to move, eat, speak and breathe. There is no cure, and on average, death occurs within three to five years of the onset of symptoms, though some people live more than 10 years.
Ilkin, a devout Christian, went public with his diagnosis in a video posted to the Twitter account of The Bible Chapel, a non-denominational church.
Bible Chapel, Family. We have a special update from Senior Pastor, Ron Moore and Pastor of Men’s Ministry, Tunch Ilkin.https://t.co/PXugCTSbzm
— The Bible Chapel (@thebiblechapel) October 8, 2020
If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to read the column Paul Zeise wrote today about Ilkin, which appeared in the Post-Gazette.
Tremendous piece by @PaulZeise about one of Pittsburgh's best human beings. Those of us lucky to know Tunch are sick about his diagnosis. You will know him a lot better after reading this column.–>>https://t.co/CKoYI8iew4 via @PittsburghPG
— Ron Cook (@RonCookPG) October 9, 2020
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