November 12, 2012

Dear Friend:

Alzheimer’s disease is widely believed by many, including my contemporaries in their twenties and thirties, to be a disease which only affects the elderly.  After all, it is estimated that only five percent of those with the disease in the United States are diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s, a condition that affects those who are under the age of 65 years old.  My mother Mary Trela, a woman who represents the purist example of what a mother ought to symbolize, was diagnosed in 2007 at the age of 57, while I was still in college.

I want to tell Mom’s story so that you will consider donating to the Alzheimer’s Association Cleveland Area Chapter to support their critical free programs, services and much-needed research.  The Association has been a tremendous help to Mom and our family throughout the last six years.  The free 24/7 Helpline, community support meetings, knowledgeable personnel, and written materials have been instrumental in helping Mom and our family manage the progression of this awful disease.

My parents’ marriage of over 41 years produced nine children and seven grandchildren.  I have the honor of being the baby – or as my Mom called me – her “caboose!”  Mom is the rock of the Trela family and she built a legacy of love, compassion, and selflessness.  While my Dad, Jim Trela, worked two or three jobs to make ends meet, Mom worked overtime at home to be there for us kids to ensure that our social, athletic, musical and academic endeavors were guided by a strong moral and spiritual compass.  Mom was a role model in our community by volunteering to lead pre-marriage counseling to young couples and establish a cost-effective program for the Lakewood schools to detect and treat strep throat.

Several years before Mom’s diagnosis, we began to notice subtle signs of cognitive decline, which began to limit her ability to interact with her vast network of friends and perform normal day-to-day activities.  Unsurprisingly though, Mom’s infectious smile, laugh, and genuine warm-heartedness continue to make the same familiar impact on everyone she touches despite the painful progression of the disease.  Even Alzheimer’s can’t conquer Mom’s personality!

As her “caboose,” I developed a very unique bond with Mom because I was always there, especially because many of my siblings had grown into independent teenagers and young adults while I was still a young boy.  It took all of my college years to fully accept her diagnosis because I could not understand why she wouldn’t be able to truly understand or appreciate the man I have become under her guidance.

Recently, I made a decision to do my part in getting my generation involved in the fight against this disease, and to ensure that Mom’s legacy will not be defined by Alzheimer’s. She inspired me to serve as a founder and co-chair of the Cleveland Area Chapter’s newest fundraiser called Blondes vs. Brunettes – a women’s flag football game.  On June 16, over 300 fans watched as 62 men and women participated in the Blonde Bombshells’ defeat of the Blazin’ Brunettes in the first BvB CLE game at Cleveland State University.  Together we raised over $40,000 to help support the Chapter.  This exciting event is an initiative of YPAlz (Young ProfessionAlz), the Association’s new support and social group for young professionals.

I hope that my story and connection with the Cleveland Area Chapter has inspired you to sustain the critical work of the Association.  In closing, I humbly ask for your new or continued support so that the Alzheimer’s Association can continue to lead from the front and serve those with the disease and their caregivers.

My mom is my reason for tackling Alzheimer's.  Thank you for finding your reason, whatever that may be, to generously join me.


Trela Sig

Joe Trela, CPA

P.S. Did you know that today over 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s,
with an additional person developing the disease every 68 seconds?
Let’s make a difference together. 
Please join me in this fight by sending in your tax-deductible donation today!

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