As the youngest of three daughters, Brittany Suzuki always felt very lucky to grow up in a loving home in San Leandro, California. Both of her parents grew up in San Francisco, and she was always surrounded by family.
Brittany’s mother, Teri, was a kind, funny, and hardworking person. Teri was never one to be in the spotlight, but worked behind the scenes to keep the family together and organized all while cheering them on from the sidelines.
“She was a phenomenal mother, wife, grandma, sister, auntie, and friend--and deeply loved everyone around her,” shared Brittany. “She gave us a home, a loving family, and an education. She is a shining example of motherhood that I can reflect on when I have kids of my own.”
Brittany played soccer for seven years and her mom never missed a game. One of the things Brittany enjoyed doing the most was getting lunch with her mom when they were both working in the city together. Teri introduced all her coworkers to Brittany— and they would always tell Brittany how much her mom was loved, respected, and requested by all the lawyers to be on their legal team..
“I was always so proud to see how hard she worked,” said Brittany. “My mom always gave me so much.”
In 2017, Teri began to notice a loss of strength in her left arm. Doctors continuously advised her to have physical therapy to regain her strength. It wasn't until Brittany took her mother to see a neurological chiropractor that they realized she needed more help. Brittany’s chiropractor made calls to connect her with the neurologists at UCSF. Teri was tested and was then diagnosed with ALS in March of 2018. She was 64 years old.
“Every day, your loved one who is living with ALS will slowly lose their ability to do something,” shared Brittany. “Although it is scary at first, you'll learn that traveling and going out will become much more difficult the longer you wait.”
Spending time with family was always very important for Teri, but it became even more important after she was diagnosed with ALS and in testament to who Teri was, there were many people who showed up willing to help.
“I don't know what we would have done if we didn't have the support of our extended family and friends.”
In 2019, one of the ways Brittany and her family showed their support was through the Golden West Chapter’s East Bay Walk to Defeat ALS as Team Teri’s Trotters. Brittany also raised funds for the ALS community and in support of our mission by holding a "Prop Sale" fundraiser for their Walk Team.
“At my previous job, one of my responsibilities was to organize and concept photoshoots,” shared Brittany.” Our team accumulated a lot of props from these shoots over time. All the proceeds went to our Walk team and my company matched dollar for dollar.”
Teri’s battle against ALS sadly came to an end in July 2020. Brittany decided that she wanted to stay connected to the Chapter, and felt compelled to volunteer for the organization in her mother’s memory. In addition to donating to the Golden West Chapter, Brittany dedicated her time and talents as a professional graphic designer to assist with the Walk and communication.
Since April 2020, Brittany has assisted with communications for our Support Groups and ASK ME webinars by creating the graphics, and provided inspiration for our Never Give Up Club Logo. On average, she builds about sixteen graphics every month for support groups and five graphics for the promotion of the webinars.
“What is considered as quick, easy projects for me, actually save a lot of time for Chapter staff," said Brittany., "I am so thankful I am able to make a difference in this way.”
Through her mother’s battle with ALS, Brittany gained a deep appreciation for the ability to do simple actions that people often overlook, such as the ability to stretch in the mornings, hold a fork to eat, or scratch to relieve an itch.
She encourages other families facing ALS to be proactive and loving with their approach to the challenges of the disease,”Be patient - ALS is stressful for everyone involved,” said Brittany. “Be kind to yourself and your loved ones.”
Team Teri’s Trotters will be continuing to participate in this year's virtual Walk to Defeat ALS on October 23, 2021, and Brittany herself will be volunteering to deliver special team captain packages in advance. “I hope others are encouraged to appreciate what they have and make the most of every moment,” shared Brittany. "It is important for each of us who have experienced this disease first hand to continue to give back."