Dawn and Shelley have been participating in the Walk to Defeat ALS in Dallas for the past nine years in memory of their mom, Judy Baucom.
Shelley says, “Mom was the most selfless person I’ve known, who always put others first and loved big. She was a great listener and gave the best advice – my kids still talk about things that she had told/taught them! Up until the end, she wanted to make sure her family and those around her were taken care of – her concern for others took priority.”
True to her nature, Judy had been taking care of her sister, who was battling cancer, when the first signs of ALS started to appear. She was dropping things a lot, tripping occasionally, and her speech was a bit slurred. But Judy and her family all thought it was due to the stress and exhaustion due to caring for her sister. “It all makes sense now, but at the time she just chalked it up to ‘I’m tired, it’s old age,’” says Dawn.
Judy pushed past her own symptoms and continued to lovingly care for her sister until she passed away in June. Three days later, Judy had a fall and her left side went numb. Everyone thought it was a stroke, due to the stress of losing her sister. She went to rehab, and her family noticed that even with physical therapy, she still was not improving, but instead getting worse. In September, she went to the ER with leg weakness and tremors, and after seeing a neurologist for tests, was diagnosed with ALS.
Judy helped design the team shirts for her Walk team. She loved hummingbirds, and included one on the front of the shirt. Her Occupational Therapist, upon learning that Judy was an artist, created a stamp of Japanese characters for “hope” and “strength” that she put on the back of the shirt. He even bought her a watercolor kit so she could continue to paint the hummingbirds she loved.
After her fall, Judy lost the ability to speak, and relied on a small whiteboard to communicate with her loved ones, often writing words of encouragement and inspiration for her daughters. Even in the midst of ALS, she was still caring for others.
Judy’s health declined quickly, and in October went to a hospice facility in Tyler. She passed away on November 10 – the same day as the Walk to Defeat ALS, and merely six weeks after Judy had been diagnosed. The night before, Dawn and Shelley visited their mom, knowing she did not have much time left, said their goodbyes and told her they were going to the Walk to Defeat ALS. They got the news early the next morning that she had passed away. “She knew we were walking. We always said she wanted to be there with us,” says Shelley.
At the Walk to Defeat ALS, in addition to friends and family, Judy’s nurses, physical therapists, and other people she had briefly met during since her ALS diagnosis, joined Dawn and Shelley. Judy had known some of these people just a short amount of time, but she had made a significant impact on them and inspired them to join the Walk in her honor.
“Mom not only showed strength through this whole process, but beautiful FAITH. She was continually thinking of others and shared her Faith and Love in the Lord. What a wonderful Legacy she left behind, and we have been so blessed to have her as our mother and friend.”
Dawn and Shelley have continued their mom’s legacy in the nine years since she passed. Over the years, they have hosted fundraisers for their friends and family, auctioned off Judy’s paintings to raise funds, and hosted a BBQ on Walk day for the Dallas ALS community, all to fulfill the vision of creating a world without ALS.
“ALS is a horrible disease…That’s why we do what we’ve been doing since the morning she passed. Try to raise funds and make sure that those that are still fighting and continue to fight have a chance. And that’s how we honor our mom,” says Dawn.
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