Tony Dallas’ family has always been competitive. They are a “baseball family” – Tony had played and coached baseball, and his sons followed in his footsteps. So, when Tony lost an arm-wrestling match to his sons over Thanksgiving, his family didn’t think anything of it. But Tony, being the competitive person he’s always been, was confused, because he typically didn’t lose to his sons. In December, he started to notice more weakness in his arms and went to see his general practitioner. After several doctors’ visits and tests, he was referred to Dr. Stanley Appel at the Houston Methodist ALS Clinic and was diagnosed in July 2019.
Tony is a self-made man. He owns an insurance business in his small town of Orange, Texas where he grew up. He and his wife have been together since the age of 14, and they have worked to create a better life for their children, instilling values of selfless giving. On Thanksgiving, the family always volunteers to help others. He has been very involved in his community, coaching his sons and many other students in baseball and football, serving on boards and finding ways to give back. Tony has supported friends, classmates of his children, and organizations in his hometown, always anonymously. He doesn’t want it to be about him.
Tony’s motto is “Do good things to improve the lives of others, not for self-gratification.”
When Tony was diagnosed, his family wanted to find a way to get involved and spread awareness. “We had no idea what ALS was, we only knew about the ice bucket challenge,” says Leigh Anne Dallas, Tony’s daughter. “ALS either changes your whole world or you don’t know what it is at all, and we wanted to change that.”
Leigh Anne discovered the Walk to Defeat ALS was happening and signed up Team Dallas to participate two weeks before the 2019 Walk. They reached out to their inner circle and started selling shirts to help raise money to go towards their walk team, thinking they would probably only sell a few. They ended up selling 600 shirts and raising $10,000 in two weeks!
The lack of awareness about ALS and supporting their father is what drives Team Dallas. For 2020, they set a goal to raise $13,000, in honor of Tony’s lucky number 13 that was on his baseball journey. They met that goal in a mere six days. Now, their goal is $30,000 (and they’re just about to surpass it!)
The money our team has raised and the community support is the biggest testament to our dad,” says Leigh Anne.
The Orange community has really rallied around Tony Dallas and his family. This year, because of COVID-19, Texas Walk to Defeat ALS events will be hosted differently for each individual team on October 31st. Team Dallas will be holding a mini walk at their local outdoor pavilion and are setting up a Walk route through downtown. Other local families affected by ALS are attending their event as well. So far, they have more than 200 people registered as part of Team Dallas.
During the pandemic, Tony and his family have had to take additional precautions. They frequently sit on their front lawn to visit with friends and family and watch people drive by, still immersed in their community from a distance.
Once you are in this world, the people who are also diagnosed with ALS become a part of your family,” says Leigh Ann., “I hope we can do something to honor him always and I hope other families can see you don’t have to let ALS consume you and it doesn’t define who you are as a person.
Tony and his family feel that funds raised through the Walk to Defeat ALS will have a big impact on future treatments and a cure. “Will it benefit him? Probably not. But it will benefit someone else’s family and might prevent them from having to go through this,” says Leigh Anne.
“I hope that we are able to do our part, whether it be through advocacy, or something else, to leave a mark and be there for other families. I hope we can do something to honor him, always. And I hope other people and other families can see that you don’t have to let ALS consume you. It doesn’t define who you are as a person,” says Leigh Anne.
Daddy’s biggest thing has been ‘I will not stop living my life.’’
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