Documentary inspires through local coach battling ALS

Mariemont lacrosse coach Graham Harden led both the boys and girls teams at Mariemont High School to state titles in consecutive years while battling ALS. (WKRC)

MARIEMONT, Ohio (WKRC) - "I've had plenty of good coaches in my career here at Mariemont," says senior Braden Bortz. "but he brings that father figure into the equation, and I love him for life."

Graham Harden's players say they'd do anything for him.

The lacrosse coach led both the boys and girls teams at Mariemont High School to state titles in consecutive years.

"We wanted to win it for him, and it was so much fun winning it for him." said senior Payton Megowen.

"I bawled my eyes out. I was crying so much."

What's even more remarkable is that both titles came after Harden was diagnosed with ALS.

"Your first reaction is - this sucks." said Harden.

Since his diagnosis, Harden's speech has faded and his muscles have slowly grown weaker.

Greg Wichard and Nick Givan initially set out to shoot video of a few Mariemont lacrosse games, to serve as a memory for Coach Harden.

They soon realized they had to do more.

"It was - wow." said Wichard. "This is bigger than shooting three or four games. This is something we can really dive into."

For the past two years they've been following Harden, documenting his battle with ALS.

"We learned that Graham never gives up. Ever." said Wichard. "From everyone we interviewed, that was their thing about him. He doesn't give up."

"He was an EMS firefighter, he was a coach, and just always gave back, and then his moment of need came, and the entire community rallied around him." said Givan. "So for us, what we kind of took away was, if you're a good person, if you're nice to people, if you're kind and you give back to your community, in your moment, then you can expect people to be there for you."

While Harden knows his ultimate fate, there's no precise timetable.

As long as he's here, though, he says he'll keep coaching, and he'll certainly keep fighting.

"If it shines a light on ALS" says Harden, "and reinforces how important community is, boom. Win, win."

The documentary, "The Graham Harden Story" premieres Wednesday, December 19th at 7:00 pm at The Monastery Events Center in Mount Adams.

Tickets are $100, with all proceeds going to G-Force - the foundation set up to help graham in his battle with ALS.

You can purchase tickets or donate to G-Force by clicking this link.

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