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Silver Linings for Phil Timp '79

A little more than a year has passed since Phil Timp, a 1979 Washington and Lee graduate, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or ALS.

A journalism major at W&L who once worked as a city editor for the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier before embarking on a public relations career, Phil was a marathon runner and a triathlete. Now he walks with a cane, wears a brace on his lower right leg, and uses a motorized chair in the Bristol, Tenn., offices of Corporate Image, where he is a senior vice president.

Phil, his family and their friends have established Team Timp, which sponsors fund-raising activities to support the ALS Association. Many of those activities are based on Phil’s speaking engagements throughout the tri-state area and beyond. He also has produced a CD, “Silver Linings,” on which he tells “how to rejoice in life in the face of some of life’s most daunting obstacles.”

Long before he began experiencing the symptoms of ALS, Phil was familiar with daunting obstacles. His 30-year-old daughter, Beth, has battled Rett syndrome, a neurological disorder of the brain that affects females almost exclusively, throughout her life. In 1998, Phil and his wife, Cindy, started The Beth Foundation to honor their daughter, who was 14 when she was diagnosed. The foundation assists families with children who have rare or severe disorders and provides funding for research. For many years, Phil has been speaking about how his family has dealt with Beth’s illness.

“Beth has given us the blueprint for courage,” Timp told the Bristol Herald Courier in May. “She’s had thousands of grand mal seizures, she’s lost her ability to talk and walk and she’s had Scoleosis surgery. Her courage is amazing. It’s amazing that we still have her at 30 years.”

In an article in May, this one in the Johnson City (Tenn.) Press, Phil connected Beth’s illness with his own: “After 30 years of all Beth’s struggles, my wife and I thought we were finally on the down hill. Then this thing. What it’s caused us to do is realize that as hard as we thought we had lived, we were only living life at 80 percent and we needed to ratchet that up to 110 percent.”

Praised for his courage in the face of these challenges, Phil says his underlying philosophy can be found in his statement on the front of the Team Timp website: “In this special life where Mount Everest seems to always be out in front of me, I have gained the perspective that the greatest Silver Lining of all is God’s complete intervention in every moment of my life!”

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