Written by Maria’s daughter, Melissa.
Maria was a hero to everyone for many reasons. For her closest family, friends, and mentees it was because they could feel that Maria possessed the ability to see the very best in them no matter what. They knew that her occasional tough love was actually just the frustration she felt from them not living up to their own limitless potential.
Quite literally, she was a hero because she was a registered nurse, a nurse manager at University Medical Center (UMC) in El Paso, and a clinical instructor for The University of Texas at El Paso School of Nursing. She was a go-getter, a leader, and well-respected at the hospital and in her community. Maria was dedicated to patient care, and accomplished many “firsts” for UMC. She was a mentor to many. So much so that her UMC family continues to raise awareness for ALS and joins the Walk every year in her memory.
“She was full of life. We would go out shopping, and she would out-last everybody,” her daughter Melissa says. She always had an inappropriate joke, a Maya Angelou quote, uplifting advice and a prayer ready for any situation and any person that needed it.
Maria worked to instill strong values in her children, Melissa and Francisco, and sparked their desire to give back. Her motto was: “To whom much is given, much is required.” Melissa and her brother saw this in action, as their mother continuously helped family and gave back to her community, never expecting anything in return.
When Maria was diagnosed with ALS in August 2015, she didn’t tell her children or her family until January. She wanted to protect them, as she always did. She took the initial heartache, head on, with only her husband David by her side. She referred to him as her rock and her angel because he stood by her side through every heartbreaking battle so that their children and family didn’t have to worry. And they didn’t because they knew she was in the best hands.
During her battle with ALS, her humor and unwavering faith gave her family peace. Her smiles in photos were bigger than ever. Her daughter believes she did this consciously in order to show her loved ones that not even ALS could destroy her fighting spirit and the love she had for them. Her whole life, she embodied the Maya Angelou quote, “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.”
After Maria passed away, her family felt called to honor one of Maria’s final wishes, “Life goes on,” she said, “You have to go on.” There was no better way for them to go on than to honor her life by continuing her legacy of giving back by starting the Walk to Defeat ALS team Maria G. Sanchez’s Warriors and volunteering with the ALS Association of Texas. They have even started reaching out to corporations to help secure corporate sponsorships for Walk to Defeat ALS. Their hope is that their efforts contribute to helping people with ALS and their families in even the slightest way.
“I want to tell people with ALS that you are not forgotten. You are not alone. My Mom at times felt like she was a burden to us, but it is the honor of our lifetime to be there for you in your time of need, just as you have always been there for us. You’re our heroes and you will always be our source of strength.”
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