“To raise awareness about the disease and to provide substantive assistance, comprehensive support and education to all those in-need and afflicted with Alzheimer’s or from Alzheimer’s”
Letter From Tony Friguls
When my beloved wife, Maria, started showing signs of Alzheimer’s at age 53, I was shocked. And so very sad. I felt very lost and alone.
As an instructional staffer at Miami-Dade Public School System, she was responsible for 51 schools with more than 2,000 teachers – she could juggle just about anything. I had my own business. We were a busy and happy couple.
When she was diagnosed two years later, I tried to do it all. But in 2006, I had no choice but to sell my business and enter an involuntary “retirement.” Since then my life has been devoted to her constant care. The daily care of someone with Alzheimer’s requires an ever increasing amount of patience, love, effort, time and plenty of consumable resources.
There is no reasonable hope for a new drug, a new procedure or anything that could potentially either prevent, cure or even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, the only sad outcome when diagnosed with this disease is suffering and death, even though long before actual death, the person has “ceased living” in many ways.
I commiserate with the loved ones of the 80,000 people in my backyard (Miami-Dade County) who have Alzheimer’s. The statistics are alarming: Eighty percent of the care provided at home for a person with Alzheimer’s is given by an unpaid, untrained family caregiver. Fifty six percent of these caregivers are over the age of 55 and are at risk of becoming “secondary patients” due to the impact providing care has on their health. I understand their exhaustion and frustration.
It would have been a lot easier for me to stand on the sidelines and do nothing but take care of our own problems and ignore those of others. But how could I after having experienced what it takes to take care of a loved one?
So I founded Baba’s Bunch Foundation, Inc. – a haven for those with friends and family diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The non-profit foundation is designed to raise awareness about the disease and to provide substantive assistance, comprehensive support and education to all those in need and afflicted with Alzheimer’s.
I chose the name in tribute to my wife. Our grandchildren (Frankie, Jimmy, Charlie, Sabrina and Michael) fondly call her Baba, a term of endearment for grandparents. The bunch was added in reference to this dedicated group of people with a common interest and association.
And what a group it is. More than 450 people gathered for the 2008 Memory Walk for Alzheimer’s in Miami-Dade County in support of Baba’s Bunch. The team was recognized by the Alzheimer’s Association for its dedication to the cause and its outstanding participation (it had the largest team).
The team earned that same distinction in the annual WALK to END Alzheimer’s in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 (it had the support of more than 785 members).
It’s comforting to know I’m not alone. And neither are you. Baba’s Bunch is here to help.
We’ll be advocating for much needed additional resources to support the research and development to find a cure to Alzheimer’s. Together we’ll make a difference.
Sincerely, Tony Friguls