Caregivers of people with ALS are crucial in the care of their loved ones battling this disease. Being the primary caregiver for a loved one with ALS can be stressful – not only are you on call 24/7, but you may have additional outside responsibilities, like working a full- or part-time job or caring for additional family.
ALS caregiver Trixie Stanford was honored at the Gordon Hartman Family Foundation‘s 2nd Annual Excellence in Caregiving Awards in April. A Belton resident, Trixie serves as the primary caregiver for her son Charlie.
Charlie was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 at just 45 years old. He started having trouble walking and kept falling a lot in 2011. Early the next year, he realized something was wrong, so he went to the doctor. They ran several tests, and Charlie went home and back to life as usual. In December that year, Trixie called the doctor because Charlie was getting more depressed. After Trixie explained the situation to the doctor, she responded, “Of course he’s depressed. He has ALS.”
The diagnosis was extremely difficult to receive, but Trixie remains positive.
“Even though it can be uncomfortable, we just have to stay prepared for each step of the process,” Trixie said.
Charlie eventually quit his job and sold his house. He first lived with family down the street from Trixie for about six months. Then he moved in with Trixie. She’s been his primary caregiver for about five years.
The Excellence in Caregiving Awards was established in 2017 to honor ‘Hearts of Gold,’ those who go above and beyond in their caregiving for those with special needs.
“Caregivers are kind of forgotten – what they put into caring for a loved one and how much work it really is,” said Jaime Johnson, Program Manager for The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation. “We wanted to do something to recognize those who go above and beyond every day for their clients, family, or friends. It’s really a labor of love, and we want to make sure they know they don’t go unnoticed.”
Last year the Foundation received an overwhelming response in applications. Over 100 nominations were submitted the first year from around the country. The Foundation recognized 50 recipients at the 2017 ceremony. This year, there were 25 recipients coming from all over the world.
Award recipients and their guests enjoyed a seated three-course dinner. Mr. Gordon Hartman invited each recipient on stage to receive their award from him personally, and he read excerpts from their nomination.
“It was nice to receive recognition,” Trixie said. “I would, of course, care for Charlie regardless of the recognition – he’s my son. But I was appreciative of the time away visiting San Antonio for the event and of being recognized.”
The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation was established in September of 2005 to help local area agencies assist families who are caring for loved ones with cognitive and physical special needs. The Foundation supports the programs, projects, and collaborative efforts of Bexar County area nonprofit organizations that provide direct services for individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities.