Notre Dame, Indiana — The 1966 Notre Dame national championship football team will host a dinner in honor of Pete Duranko — a former All-America defensive lineman for the Fighting Irish and former All-Pro with the Denver Broncos. Duranko is battling ALS — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The 1966 championship team members have organized the dinner to help support Duranko, who has been fighting the illness since his diagnosis in 2000. The tribute dinner, “For the Love of Pete,” will be held after the Blue-Gold Football Game and will feature former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lattner, All-American and College Football Hall of Famer Jim Lynch, and other teammates of Pete’s from the ‘66 national championship team. Special guests include Pete’s teammates, Bob Kuechenberg, Jim Seymour, Kevin Hardy, Larry Conjar, George Goeddeke, and many other former players, classmates, and fans.

Irish football coach Charlie Weis has named Duranko honorary captain for the 2006 Blue-Gold Game. The tribute dinner will be held on April 22, 2006, after the Blue-Gold Game. The dinner is open to the public and donations are tax deductible. It will be held at the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center. Space is limited. Tickets may be purchased ($125/ticket) through the Notre Dame Monogram Club. For reservations, dinner tickets, and to make contributions, or for more information, contact Julie at the Notre Dame Monogram Club, 574-631-5450, or Email: .

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1966 national championship. Pete’s teammates and friends want to rally around a great guy who’s facing the toughest fight of his life. Duranko was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2000. It is a progressive neuromuscular disease that weakens and eventually destroys the components of the nervous system that connect the brain with the skeletal muscles. A person with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) eventually becomes paralyzed and loses all respiratory function. There is no cure.

If you’ve ever heard the Notre Dame Victory March sung in Polish — you’ve met Pete Duranko. The problem is, Pete doesn’t know Polish — he makes up the words! He’s a great guy and a joker, with a tremendous sense of humor. Even more important he has given so much to ALS with his attitude and his strength in the face of the most difficult opponent of his life. We want to rally behind him and give him something to smile about.

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