I remember the sense of community when we joined the Walk to Defeat ALS in the past, so when the opportunity to join the Hike to Defeat ALS came up, I decided to create a team to be a part of this community once again. This year, on Father’s Day, we hike in memory of a loving father, husband, brother, uncle and friend to many.
To be honest, I didn't know much about ALS until he was diagnosed in June of 2006. We lost him almost six years later in April 2012, and although that’s longer than the average, it still felt too fast. I realize many have lost, and continue to lose, their loved ones to ALS a lot faster than I did, and I will always be grateful for the time we had with him. What was, and still is, most upsetting, painful, and scary about his diagnosis was that nothing could be done. We still have no reliable treatments to effectively pause or stop the progression of the disease. This fuels my family's lifelong commitment to continue to support others affected by ALS. No family should have to go through what we did.
This disease took so much from Papa -- the ability to use his hands, arms, legs, and eventually the ability to talk and eat.
My Papa loved to dance and listen to music. You could always find him with my Mama on the dance floor. A bit later in life, he even realized his dream of sharing his love of music with others and became a DJ for celebrations of all kinds (graduations, weddings, holiday parties etc.).
Papa inspires and guides me every single day. On days that I don't feel like going for a run, I do so because he'd tell me to keep moving and never take it for granted. Most of all, he inspires me to love and be there for others -- my family, friends (chosen family), and community.
Our family will forever be grateful for the support The ALS Association gave to my Papa and family during those six years, and I know he would want us to continue to give back to all those who are affected by this devastating disease.
I encourage you to continue, or start, your fundraising efforts so that those affected by ALS continue to get the support they need, as well as contribute towards the ongoing research to defeat ALS.
With love and gratitude,
Team Captain, Team Perez