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Former Pro Baseball Player and Best-selling Author Wants to Give Back

Dr. Joe Elrod is shown during a HPER class in JSU's Pete Mathews Coliseum. JSU student Treacy Nuse (in red pant suit) volunteers to help Dr. Elrod with a demonstration for the class. (Photo: Steve Latham/JSU)

By Sherry Kughn
JSU News Bureau

21 October 2004 Dr. Joe Elrod dashes down the hallway after his physical education class at Jacksonville State University like a man half his age of 63.

The nimble Dr. Elrod is excited about what he is doing, and it shows. Dressed in a blue, Perry Ellis warm-up suit, he is headed to a meeting in Gadsden. His cell phone peals out the "Hallelujah Chorus." He answers it a little breathlessly as would a man with lots to do.

Dr. Elrod is a best-selling author, has a contract on another book, and is enjoying life to its fullest. Life was not always so good when he was a small child. He grew up in Blount County in an impoverished family. He had few chances of breaking free of the poverty, he realizes in looking back. His life changed, though, when they moved to Gadsden. It was there that the newly-born Etowah County Little League program gave the youth his first chance at success. He started playing ball in 1951 at age ten and played throughout his youth. He lettered three years at Gadsden High School and was named East-West All-Star MVP and was a part of the All-State team in 1959.

"Then I received a baseball scholarship to the University of Alabama," said Dr. Elrod, "and from there I was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles."

He played for the Orioles in 1960 and switched to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1962. Something within him then, which he now believes was God, led him back to the classroom. As part of his contract with the Orioles, he had an opportunity to enroll at Nichols State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. He finished the degree he had started at UA and, afterward, taught and coached at Thibodaux High School. He never returned to professional baseball but taught at several high schools and at Auburn University at Montgomery, at the United States Sports Academy in Daphne and at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville.

Throughout the years, he married, raised two daughters and earned a master's (1969) and a doctoral degree (1972) from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge in health, physical education and recreation.

The more Dr. Elrod practiced and taught good health, the more he believed that optimal health required a holistic approach. The balance between nutrition, exercise, spirituality and emotions was a message that led him into consulting jobs and into volunteer service, helping people of all ages, especially youths in Special Olympics. In 1973, he served on the first Governor's Commission on Physical Fitness and again from 1976-1980, first under Gov. George Wallace and later Gov. Lurleen Wallace.

Dr. Elrod's volunteer work earned him recognition. In 1970 and 1977, he was listed in the Outstanding Young Men of America. In 1975, he was named in the Personalities of the South and in 1983 was named Outstanding Alabamian by the Alabama Jaycees. He has recently been nominated for the 2005 Etowah County Sports Hall of Fame.

During his busy years as a professor, Dr. Elrod dreamed of writing a book and sharing his holistic approach to health. In the late 1980s, he found himself drawn to the health and medical shelves at bookstores. From his own research in advising clients, he determined that in addition to achieving balance in life, many people needed help coping in three areas: the effects of a toxic environment, the effects of stress, and the effects of the common ailment fibromyalgia, which involves muscular aches, pain and fatigue. The timing was right for Dr. Elrod to include these elements into his holistic ideas.

He wrote the book Reversing Fibromyalgia and had it published in 1997. His hunch was right. It has since sold 500,000 copies. He then had published The Fibromyalgia Nutritive Guide and Supplements for Fibromyalgia. His latest book Reversing Degenerative Disease, published by Strang Communications, helps people suffering also from the immune system disorders of Alzheimer's, arthritis, frequent colds and flu, osteoporosis, Crohn's disease, lupus, Raynaud's disease, scleroderma, psoriasis, and even cancer and AIDS.

"It has been my job to be able to make a difference for many people, guiding them to a much healthier and better quality of life," writes Dr. Elrod. The effects of degenerative diseases can be so traumatic, he believes, that families break apart because of things like job losses, medical expenses, divorce and bankruptcy.

Dr. Elrod is surprised to find himself settled back in Gadsden after having traveled throughout the nation and Canada during the past few years promoting his book.

"I never forgot my debt to this community," said Dr. Elrod quietly as he lowered his eyes and then looked up again. "Maybe now I can give back."

Dr. Elrod will be signing Reversing Fibromyalgia and Reversing Degenerative Disease at GNC in Rainbow Plaza on Fri., Oct. 22 from 4 - 7 p.m. and on Sat., Oct. 23 from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Then on Nov. 6, he will conduct seminars at the Gadsden Senior Citizen Center from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and from 6:30 - 8 p.m.

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