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Spotlight on... Sigifredo Morales

Written in loving memory, by Norma Morales

 
 

The Morales family poses for a photo at the Los Angeles Dodgers Stadium during an ALS Awareness day with the Golden West Chapter.


You know the phrase “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only option.” We learned this firsthand.

The first time I became aware of ALS was when Ismael, a loving father and husband to friends of mine, was diagnosed. Reading Ismael’s story and how his illness came to light was heartbreaking. Although new advances in medicine had recently become available, Ismael's condition was too advanced for it to take effect and he lost his battle to ALS in June of 2018. I am thankful that the Mejia's were courageous enough to share their story, so that people like myself could become aware of this fatal disease.

The difficult thing about ALS is that it goes undetected or misdiagnosed, for months or even years, in a lot of cases. This was exactly what happened to us. My hero, my rock, my dad, Sigifredo Morales, was diagnosed about two years after Ismael. 

My dad was a healthy and hardworking man. He was born on August 21, 1953 in Panindicuaro, Michoacan de Ocampo, Mexico, the third-born of 12 children. At a young age, my dad moved to the U.S. settling in Los Nietos, California, where he continued his High School education. He was an avid soccer player and coach. At the age of 16, he began to work as an upholsterer and mastered this trade throughout his lifetime. In 1976, he married my Mom and they raised 6 children and 8 grandchildren together. As an upholsterer and foreman, my dad got the opportunity to travel through most of the U.S. and China until he retired. He was a humble, persevering man with a generous heart,  great sense of humor and “Never Give Up” attitude.

Before his diagnosis, I remember begging my dad to tell me what was wrong. He was noticeably thin and just didn’t seem to have the same energy as before. We so desperately wanted to help him but for the first few years, he had no idea what was going on after countless doctors appointments. He bravely told me he was fine and not to worry because everything was going to be okay, as I cried inconsolably in his arms.

On the day he was diagnosed, my dad asked me what I wanted to do. I said, “This is your life, Dad, and we are going to fight.” Just as he so bravely reassured me the day I cried in his arms, I had to do the same for him.


 

 Team SMU poses at the Golden West Chapter’s Los Angeles Walk to Defeat ALS. Sigifredo Morales is seated right of the ‘Why We Walk’ sign made in his honor, seen wearing a Hero’s yellow Unlock ALS lanyard.


We would all walk hand in hand with him and I refused to shed a tear, although I knew the reality we would face. I promised to move mountains for him, and I did what was within my reach and beyond, even if I was on my tippy toes. I knew we were up for a battle, but he fought it bravely and fearlessly every step of the way.

No one truly understands the emotional and physical strain ALS has on a person until they are in those shoes. I had to put myself in that mindset everyday, thinking how frustrating it must have been for my dad and Ismael to go from being able-bodied, hardworking men, to having to rely on people to do easy, day to day things for them.

As heartbreaking as it was, I put a brave face on and made sure that my dad knew we were all in this together. This battle was not only a physical one, but an emotional one, FOR ALL OF US. We needed to maintain a positive mindset no matter how difficult things got. We refused to let him fall into a depression or frustration because he was no longer able to do the things he once loved.

 

Sigifredo Morales receives physical support from members of team SMU as he takes steps at his first Walk to Defeat ALS.



My dad may have lost his ability to walk or hold things with his hands, but he never lost his ability to hug, speak, sing or laugh. This was his biggest fear of all - he never wanted to lose the ability to tell us that he loved us. Although his voice did get softer as his illness progressed, and he had to wear the mask to breathe, the spark in his eyes and infectious smile never ceased. He constantly gave us words of encouragement and my mom words of affection. My dad managed to always keep that positive mindset and sense of humor.

It was so difficult at times - dealing with insurance companies for medical approval and appeals - but thankfully the Golden West Chapter of The ALS Association was there to help us every step of the way. When the insurance company would deny us or deem our requests “not medically necessary,” the Golden West Chapter provided the items for us. We could not have done it without them. This encouraged my dad to continue to fight as he knew he had a team behind him.

The reason I walk… because my hero, my rock, my dad Sigifredo Morales, lost his battle to ALS on October 7, 2019. Every 90 minutes a person in this country is diagnosed with ALS and every 90 minutes another person will lose their battle against ALS. I walk so that no one ever hears the words, "You have ALS” again.

The 2020 Virtual Southern California Walk to Defeat ALS is proud to have team SMU walk in Sigifredo Morales's memory this year. We can't wait to create a world without ALS. To support the fundraising efforts of the Morales family through their SMU team, please visit their team page here.



 

 Front row: Seated three to the right, Sigifredo Morales is surrounded by friends and family on team SMU at the Walk to Defeat ALS.

 

 
 

 Team SMU gathers for a photo at the Golden West Chapter’s Los Angeles Walk to Defeat ALS.