Matt Eberflus described his father as "my biggest fan as a player, as a coach."
Eberflus' father, Stan Eberflus Jr., passed away Feb. 8, 2015 at the age of 75 due to complications from ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
The Bears coach received the prestigious Iron Horse Award from ALS United Greater Chicago Tuesday night at the Morgan Arts Complex. Renowned Scottish photographer David Yarrow spoke at the event, which was emceed by FOX 32's Lou Canellis, and presented Eberflus one of his iconic photos.
The Iron Horse Award is given to an individual who displays the same humility, courage and strength as Gehrig, a New York Yankees superstar known as who passed away from ALS June 2, 1941, at the age of 37.
ALS is a neurodegenerative neuromuscular disease that results in the progressive loss of motor neurons that control voluntary muscles. The affected muscles are responsible for chewing food, speaking and walking.
Among those on hand to support Eberflus at Tuesday night's event were his wife, Kelly, daughter, Giada, and Bears general manager Ryan Poles.
During his acceptance speech, Eberflus spoke about how the death of his grandfather, Stan Eberflus Sr., hit him "like a ton of bricks" and inspired him to spend as much time as possible with loved ones, especially his father. When his grandfather passed away in 1990, the Bears coach was a 20-year-old linebacker at the University of Toledo.
"Time is fleeting," Eberflus said. "From that point on, I said to myself, 'You know what, I'm going to spend every minute that I can … if my dad wants to hang out and go fishing, hang out and do something in the backyard, do whatever, I was going to do it, and I did—for the next 25 years, I did it."
"You never know when this disease is going to hit. Life is so short. Spending time with the ones you love … if you have a parent that's older, if you have a brother or sister, just spend time with them. Love them, spend time with them, enjoy them, and that really is my message."
Eberflus also offered encouragement to former Bears star defensive tackle Steve "Mongo" McMichael, who has been battling ALS since 2021. Eberflus cited McMichael's love and passion for the game and said, "We just can't support you enough. We're certainly there for you all the way through this fight."