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Phillies' top farm club announces funeral winner

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — The Philadelphia Phillies' top farm club on Tuesday offered a free funeral to an eastern Pennsylvania fan recently diagnosed with ALS.

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Steve Paul, right of Freemansburg Pa. watches the top of the sixth inning with his daughter Robyn Paul during a minor league baseball game between the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders Tuesday at Coca-Cola Park, in Allentown, Pa.  (AP Photo/The Express-Times, Bill Adams)

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs announced the winner of its funeral giveaway during a home game at Coca-Cola Park.

Steve Paul, 64, of Freemansburg got a standing ovation as he was wheeled onto the field and announced as the recipient of a funeral package valued at nearly $10,000.

Fans had to submit a 200-word essay describing their ideal funeral, and explain why they deserved a free one. More than 50 essays were submitted.

Paul wrote an essay explaining that he was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in June. ALS is a progressive nerve disease that typically leads to paralysis and death.

"The disease is racing, as my family must watch the strength, energy and life quickly drain from my body," he wrote. "No one was prepared, emotionally or financially, for the loss or to prepare a final memorial."

He said he asked for the funeral package to help comfort his family "and take one major concern from their minds." His funeral "should not be morbid or sad, but a gathering to enjoy and celebrate life and family I dearly loved," he wrote.

The team came up with the unusual promotion for one of its sponsors, a nearby funeral home.

The funeral package comes with a casket, embalming or cremation, hearse, headstone, flowers and a funeral or memorial service.

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