My name is John Little. I'm an Aquarius and like long walks on the beach. All kidding aside, I am an Orange County native and the oldest of three. I have two sisters that live near by. Once a nationally ranked triathlete, I gave it up to marry my beautiful wife, Shannon, and start a family. I have two awesome sons who love extreme sports. My family and have logged many hours at the beach and skate parks. Before retirement, I was involved in structural engineering as a project manager and have designed and built skate parks all over the US, recently completed the Metro EXPO line in Los Angeles, and broke ground on the controversial Metro Purple line that runs under Beverly Hills.
The diagnosis of ALS has been a blessing and a curse. I enjoy the handicap perks. But, losing the ability to communicate verbally has been quite an adjustment. My faith is strong as I am fighting this disease.
Born in Arizona in 1968, I was raised in Saratoga, CA. After high school I attended UCLA, then moved to Orange County, where I met my wife at her cousin's birthday party. We were avid scuba divers, travelers and outdoor enthusiasts until I began struggling with what we thought were "back issues" in 2007. For years doctors were unable to diagnose the problem, and my quality of life slowly deteriorated. In 2015 I was finally diagnosed at the age of 47 with ALS.
My wife and I are proud parents to two children, Sydney age 6, Emma age 2. As a computer programmer for a small company I have been trying to work from home, but the challenges are making this increasingly more difficult.
Our entire family is praying for a cure and has deep gratitude to Trish's Angels and their donors for their support. The physical, emotional and financial strain caused by this illness is immense and it is only with the help of a village that families like ours are able to wade through this journey.
I was born in Germany in 1954, and migrated to the United States the next year courtesy of the United States Air Force. Like many immigrants, my family’s dream was to come to America because they believed that the streets were “lined with gold” and you can be whatever you want to be. We settled in Norwalk, CA.
I found the love of my life, Sandra Califano in 1975 and we were married in October 1977. At that time Sandra had two girls, Lisa 4 and Colleen who was 14. I worked in the aerospace and manufacturing arena until my retirement in 2012.
My ALS symptoms began to emerge in late 2009, when I kept tripping while on vacation in Las Vegas. The tripping became worse as the months went on. In February of 2010 I made an appointment to see my doctor. Months and many tests later, I was diagnosed with ALS. My reaction was like an out of body experience. I told myself that it can’t be true, they made a mistake or maybe they have someone else’s chart.
My life changed quickly, but not in regard to my family. To this day they support me 110 percent and I couldn’t ask for anything more. On weekends, my wife and I go to San Diego or Palm Springs to just get away. Soon after my diagnosis I joined the Orange County ALS chapter support group and truly appreciate the wonderful people we’ve met and their continued support. Right now I’m able to work, but the disease is making it more difficult for me to do so. Although I may have to quit my job, I certainly won’t give up on life. I love my wife and my family and am very lucky to have them.
Mario G. Aquino
I came to the U.S. in 1966, where I built my family and raised four wonderful children. I worked for more than three decades as an auto body specialist, and also spent ten years serving as a drug and alcohol abuse counselor.
I began to notice that I was slurring my words, having a difficult time writing and was feeling very weak in general. I was eventually diagnosed with ALS and other neurological problems, for which I am currently in treatment. Since my diagnosis I have lost more than 80 pounds and feel especially weak in my arms and hands. I am grateful for all of the support I’ve received, although I am worried about the length of illness that I am facing, and the fact that there is no cure for ALS.
My life growing up in Costa Mesa and Corona Del Mar was rich in adventure and discoveries. As Huck Finn types, my neighborhood buddies and I explored abandoned shacks and sewer tunnels, climbed redwood fences barefooted, jumped off roofs and built underground forts. However, all that creative energy changed when I was 8 years old and my dad walked out of our lives. To add insult to injury, our house burned down a few short months later. The remarkable composure exhibited by my mother of four children taught me some valuable lessons on how to cope when life changes in an instant. Her calm, quiet strength served me well when my greatest challenge arrived 29 years later.
In August, 1994 I was diagnosed with familial ALS. As a husband and a father of four young sons I applied my mothers' wisdom and chose to pursue the purposes of life even in the midst of a terrible struggle. I decided to eliminate fear and replace it with the power of love. With my life impacted and influenced by my Heavenly Father, life began to have more meaning, purpose and fulfillment. Regardless of the circumstances, this is a life I choose. This is the eternal life I am heading to.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us the spirit of fear and timidity but of power, love, and self-control.
My name is Keith Jones, and I was diagnosed with ALS at age 46 in the fall of 2014. The journey toward a diagnosis was long and there were a few wrong turns along the way, but in the end all that was left on the table was ALS. My symptoms began slowly in the summer of 2011, and include muscle cramps, weakness and twitches in my upper and/or lower parts of my body, clumsiness, difficulty breathing, speaking, weight loss and the reduced muscle mass.
I have been married to the love of my life, Heather, for 15 years. We have a beautiful, caring, happy, loving and enthusiastic 8 year old daughter, named Madisen. Madisen is aware that Daddy will not be going to work anymore and has trouble breathing and problems with his muscles, but at this point that is all we are prepared to share with her. When I first started using the ventilator, she was scared and cried, but now she is so used to it that she comes in and wakes me up in the morning by helping me off with my mask and turning off the machine. She is our pride and joy and she inspires me every day.
My daily activities are getting tougher day by day as my symptoms become more severe. I had to stop working full-time, and I am no longer able to volunteer at Madisen’s school because I am just too weak. Everyday activities, like putting on gloves, pulling zippers and putting Madisen’s hair in a ponytail have become a big struggle. These are simple things that we hardly notice and take for granted until they are taken away.
My family helps so much, and I'm so grateful for everything that they do. In a way, I'm very lucky because we have all grown closer and do not take anything for granted. We cherish every day that we have together and are blessed to have this time to share, love and grow together on this journey, whatever it may be.
I would like to take this opportunity to first say thank you so much to Trish’s Angels for the grant. The funds will greatly improve my ongoing struggle of getting ready to face the day. I am 51 years old, and was diagnosed two years ago with ALS. Before the disease struck I was a very independent and active person, who exercised daily, surfed and enjoyed many other outdoor activities. A single dad of two boys, ages 15 and 18, I especially loved going camping with my children. Although they don’t live with me full-time, the boys have been an outstanding support system whenever they are not in school. In that way I feel blessed that my disease has progressed slowly. At this stage I have pretty much lost the use of my arms, and simple tasks like bathing and brushing my own teeth have become a struggle, plus I am unable to feed myself unless I have help from my children. My legs are starting to become stiffer and it is difficult to hold my head up because of the weakness in my neck muscle. Although this is a terrible disease I still have a very positive attitude and take life one day at a time, so that I can enjoy that time I have left with all my loved ones.
Kelley Patterson was a wife and mother of two beautiful daughters living with ALS. In January 2009, her health began to deteriorate. This was not only a lifestyle change for her family; it was the beginning of a new journey in life. Five years into her illness, she was 100% dependent on her family. Between camping trips and her girl's school activities, she enjoyed life to the fullest.
Blanche was a loving and loyal partner, mother, and friend. She was born to Mary Walker Spruengli and Hans Spruengli in the Philippines on September 3, 1945. She graduated from St. Paul College (Class of ’66), in Manila and came to the United States in 1967. She first came to stay with her Uncle and Aunt in Long Beach, California and continued to reside in Southern California throughout the remainder of her life. Blanche was involved in the travel industry her entire career and loved to travel which allowed her to see many different parts of the World. Her favorite activities were dancing, gardening, and throwing parties for friends and family. She was very sociable and a loyal and true friend, which resulted in an exceptionally supportive network of family and friends. She was an extremely positive spirit who, following her diagnosis in 2010, remained positive throughout, despite the many complications resulting from this terrible disease. Blanche is survived by her partner of 30 years, George Hatley and two children: Michael Gamboa (and wife Audrey Alvarez) and Kristine Bonsall (and husband Andrew) and four grandchildren: Elijah and Mekhi Gamboa and Jaxson and Sofia Bonsall. She is also survived by four siblings: Lina Himes and Hans, Ralph, and Richard Spruengli.
johanna hendrika van egmond
Johanna was born in The Hague, Netherlands to Roelof and Jannetje van Egmond. She and her sisters, Corrie and Diek, all survived World War II. Johanna left home at the age of 17 to begin a lifetime of travel visiting every continent but one. She worked and lived in Lourdes and Paris, France, then on to Lucerne, Switzerland. In 1957, her next adventure took her to Australia, where daughters Ruby and Gigi were born. The family immigrated to the USA in 1967. Johanna loved children and enjoyed a teaching career for over 50 years, including 25 years as the owner of Carousel Pre-School in Long Beach, California. She loved her family, reading, the beach, the gym and her garden. Her great sense of humor kept everyone laughing. She leaves behind her daughters Ruby (Ken) and Gigi (Dave); grandchildren Spencer, Haley (Joe), Alyse and great grand-child Sienna; best friend and sister Diek and brother-in-law Wim Schippers; brother -in-law Ruut van Zanten; nephews and nieces in Holland, England and Australia; friends in Long Beach and thousands of children who attended Carousel Pre-School. Her family and friends are all so happy to have enjoyed so many wonderful hears and such great memories. To a live well lived!
Jim was born and raised in Burbank, California. He worked in the aircraft industry until retirement. Jim was an avid bicycle rider, camper and fisherman. Jim was diagnosed with ALS in January, 2013 after experiencing weakness in his legs and arms for two years prior. Despite his disease, Jim still enjoyed life. He appreciated all the time spent with family, including his granddaughters. Jim was blessed with many great memories.
After graduating from law school and successfully passing the bar, Jeff started a law career in April of 2014. After noticing weakness in his leg playing basketball, he was diagnosed in July of 2014 with ALS. Unfortunately, this disease has run rampant in his family with Jeff being the twelfth member to have gotten the disease. At only six months from first recognized symptoms, Jeff was almost completely paralyzed but still had use of his voice. He was completely dependent on his mother’s care and being a big guy, it is a lot for anyone to undertake. Trish’s Angels helped fund some additional care to give his mother a break.