Officer Jimmy Judge, an assistant chief with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, has spent 30 years serving the community in law enforcement, but now it’s time for the community to support him as he fights a deadly disease.
Judge suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease – a progressive and fatal disease that attacks nerve cells that control muscles throughout the body, eventually causing severe dysfunction with muscular activity. The mortality rate for the disease is 100%
However, Judge isn’t giving up. Although doctors have advised him to not workout as the muscles won’t be able to repair themselves, he still does. “I need to get up for my son again and show him we don’t lay down,” he said. “I am not going to lay in bed and feel sorry for myself.”
Judge has been athletic his whole life, has a black belt in martial arts, was an avid runner, and competed in body building competitions. Now, he is inspired to keep working out because of his son.
“I don’t want the last years of my life (for) my son to remember immobile sedentary,” he said.
Judge’s first symptoms started on the gun range when he had trouble loading a magazine into the chamber. Eventually, he started having difficulty with his speech. When he saw the neurologist and got the diagnosis, it was devastating.
“It was a devastating diagnosis,” he said. “I subsequently went to Johns Hopkins, got it confirmed and now I am being treated at Mayo Clinic.”
When doctors told him that it was fatal and had no cure, he was initially angry. “You’re telling me in 80 years you can’t slow this disease down?” he said. “You’re telling me this is the best that you can do?” he lamented. But he decided the best course of action was to stop feeling sorry for himself and make the most of the situation.
The veteran officer is not alone in his fight. Not only is his wife helping him every step of the way, but the community he has served is giving back in any way they can.
In February, the River City Brewing Company hosted a fundraiser benefiting Judge and his family, and fellow officers and local businesses are also working together currently to raise funds for treatments that could slow down his ALS.
Fellow Officer Kenny Lentz, along with Thin Blue Line Fishing Company and Expert T’s ad Bulvega Graphic designer Loren Weber created a T-shirt in Judge’s honor that will hopefully raise money for the medical bills. When Lentz found out about Judge’s rare disease, he had to help out.
Lentz told News4Jax about how important Judge is to him. “I’ve known him since I was a kid, like I said. You know Jimmy – he’s been a police officer for over 30 years and he’s been, you know, protecting the city of Jacksonville for over 30 years.”
He continued, “He’s a selfless leader. He’s a very humble and kind individual. He’s very thankful for everything everybody’s done for him. He’s a loving husband and father. I really look up to him – just as a person, in general. But we love Jimmy, so anything we can do to help him.”