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Cool Cats for a Cure Walk for a Brighter Future without ALS

by | Oct 21, 2021

The close-knit Martinez family calls the Rio Grande Valley home. Even after Rodolfo Martinez’s shocking ALS diagnosis in 2016, the family remains as close as ever. For the past five years they’ve found community and hope through ALS Texas and the Walk to Defeat ALS.

A Close-Knit Family Discovers a Shocking Diagnosis

Rodolfo grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, but later in life, he moved to Dallas, Texas. He worked a career as a construction inspector for the city of Dallas for 25 years. After he retired, he moved back to the Rio Grande Valley to enjoy his golden years with his family.

Today, Rodolfo, his daughter, Rosie, her husband, and her brother all live together in a quiet home in the Rio Grande Valley. “It’s pretty different from the rest of Texas. It’s another world down here,” she described the region, just seven miles from the Mexico border.

He first started noticing symptoms in early 2016. Rodolfo was experiencing issues with his wrist. His doctor sent him to a physical therapist for treatment. While the physical therapist found nothing physically wrong with his wrist, they did find atrophy of the hand muscles.

Rodolfo next visited a neurologist in the Rio Grande Valley who would eventually send him to Houston for confirmative testing. There he was officially diagnosed in April of 2016. “It was a big shock for the family,” Rosie shared.

Finding Help Along the Way

Rodolfo’s neurologist directed him to the clinic at UT Health San Antonio for further ALS care. At this clinic, Rosie discovered the local support groups hosted by ALS Texas. Rosie’s interest peaked for the group, but Rodolfo still faced denial regarding his diagnosis. “My father sat for a few months, about six months with this fear kind of looming over him,” Rosie shared. A nurse connected the Martinez family to Linda Quiroz from the ALS Texas.

Once we made the connection with the ALS Association, we knew we weren’t alone.

Eventually, Rodolfo, his son Rudy, Rosie and her husband Danny all ventured to an ALS support group. Rosie described their first experience as ‘completely overwhelming.’ “We didn’t participate much, but we just listened and heard the stories. It felt good to know there were other people that were dealing with the same issues, that we weren’t alone.”

Linda Quiroz from ALS Texas prepared them for their first trip to the  ALS clinic in San Antonio, explaining what they could expect from the visit. Since that first trip, Rodolfo has strengthened his relationship with the San Antonio clinic. “He’s since been working with Dr. Jackson and her team,” Rosie shared.

Cool Cats for a Cure

During those initial meetings, Linda also invited the Martinez family to join the Texas Walk to Defeat ALS in 2016. “We decided to check it out. Let’s go anyway and see what it’s about,” Rosie said.

The family had quick shirts made and a small team of family members and friends. Cool Cats for a Cure was born. “My dad and I love cats. We’ve had cats my whole life. Every year my husband designs a new shirt with a cat on it.” Rodolfo feels like a true cool cat at the Walk to Defeat ALS and is completely behind it.

The Benefits of Local Care Programs

“Previous to my dad’s diagnosis, I heard about ALS through the Ice Bucket Challenge,” Rosie shared. “But I had no idea what ALS was.” You never know who will be affected by the disease, it affects people both young and old, from all walks of life, races, and genders. “In my dad’s case, it was spontaneous, it wasn’t hereditary. We really need to find a cure for this horrible disease.”

Rosie expressed gratitude to Dr. Jackson and her team in San Antonio for supporting her father. She helped him get approval for Radicava which has been extremely helpful in slowing his progression.

They [ALS Texas] provide lots of guidance and support. They help us find equipment when we need it. They’ve really helped us navigate this journey… He loves Linda. He loves the [clinic] team, the doctors and nurses, especially in San Antonio, Texas, they’ve made a great connection.

Rosie recalls how in 2017, ALS Texas also helped establish a multidisciplinary clinic in the Rio Grande Valley. For those with ALS in the area who couldn’t travel to distant cities for clinic, this resource is life-saving. Until this year, Rodolfo had received  primary care at the San Antonio clinic. Now he’s transitioning his care to the Rio Grande Valley clinic. His family knows that now there are equipped doctors locally to help in case of an emergency.

Support a Brighter Future without ALS

The Walk is important not only because of the awareness piece, but also because it supports local programs for Texans living with ALS. The Martinez family and so many others benefit from no-cost equipment loans, support groups, ALS clinics, and the critical research for a cure. Your support of the Walk funds these crucial programs. Will you join the fight?

It’s very important for others to participate in the Walk so we can spread awareness and also raise funds to get us closer to a cure…I see a brighter future ahead for when we can end the disease.
– Rosie Martinez

How ALS Patients Can Help

Once you’ve been diagnosed with ALS, it’s easy to feel like you just don’t have many options, but there are ways you can make a difference.

How You Can Help People With ALS

We all have a part to play in the fight against ALS! Your generous support funds critical research for better treatments and a cure for this disease. Here are a few ways you can help: