Charity Spotlight: Eric S. Obermann Foundation

By Stuart Obermann
Community Volunteer

Eric Obermann grew up on Green Mountain and attended Mountain Gap and Grissom High School, class of 2000. Sadly, during his first semester at Georgia Tech studying Computer Science, he began having symptoms which led to a diagnosis of ALS, a neuromuscular disease with no known cure. Eric became an ALS Advocate at the State and Federal levels and even testified on a Senate subcommittee hearing chaired by Richard Shelby, where he urged congress to expand ALS research. Eric’s parents, Stuart and Marcia Obermann, founded the Alabama Chapter of the ALS Association which established Alabama’s only multidisciplinary ALS Certified Treatment Center of Excellence at Crestwood Medical Center.

Eric S. Obermann Linear Forest at Aldridge Creek Greenway

Eric lived with ALS for almost 10 years and died in 2010 at the age of 28. To honor his legacy, his family created the Eric S. Obermann Foundation (ESOF) to continue Eric’s passions for music and nature. The foundation is 100% volunteer led and seeks to make local investments in the people and places in Eric’s home community of South Huntsville.

Eric and his sister Lauren (Dauro) were both involved in Grissom’s outstanding band program, and credit the band for providing them with life-enriching experiences, friendships, and leadership skills. Eric wanted to support the GHS band program, so in 2006 ESOF began an annual scholarship that awards one graduating senior from the band with financial assistance for their choice of college or technical school. The goal is to recognize and reward a student who exemplifies Eric’s passion and commitment to music, good character, and self-improvement. Over 17 years, this scholarship program has helped 21 local band students achieve their educational and musical ambitions.

Recently, the foundation made a significant contribution to help the Grissom band build a tower for band rehearsals on the new GHS campus, helping the marching band program maintain the high standard of excellence they have achieved for decades.

Eric loved nature and spent a lot of time walking, and later as his ALS progressed, riding his power wheelchair along our beautiful greenway on Aldridge Creek. In 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ESOF partnered with the City of Huntsville’s Operation Green Team to plant nearly 300 trees along a ¾ mile stretch of the Greenway between Mt. Gap and Hobbs roads. This project was dedicated in fall 2020 as the Eric S. Obermann Linear Forest, in memory of Eric and others who have died of ALS. These young trees have begun to grow quickly and are already beginning to provide shade along a formerly barren stretch of the greenway.

Eric’s foundation demonstrates how philanthropy can be focused locally to impact our community right here in South Huntsville. Funding for the foundation has come from Eric’s family as well as dozens of others who value the GHS band program and enjoy our wonderful greenways. If you believe these are worthwhile investments in our community, we welcome your support! You can make a tax-deductible donation online or by check at  ESOF is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

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