Society Life June 2015 : Page 52

SL Interview by Jon Salinsky Photography by Thaddeus Harden legacy His accomplishments in baseball mark a successful career, but the work done by JOSE GUZMAN on behalf of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease is his legacy. pacted by Alzheimer's. He is driven by his deep love for his mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s and who is the inspiration for his foundation. He genuinely cares about people. In our self-centered world, Jose is a breath of fresh air. Jose’s passion is pure. SOCIETY LIFE: Please describe your relation-ship with your mother? JOSE GUZMAN: Well, I was the baby. She had me when she was 45 years old. She already had seven children, six boys and one girl. I was the surprise eighth child and the youngest by seven years. I went everywhere with her. I watched her work so hard around the house to raise my brothers and my sister. Both of my parents sacrificed so much for us, but I was so close to my mother. She was the most beautiful woman in the world. I loved to just sit and visit with her. She was such a sweet soul. Even as a grown man, when I would visit her in Puerto Rico, she would cry every time I left to play ball back in the States. SL: How would you describe Alzheimer’s and how did it impact your family? JG: I can only speak from my personal experience of the sig-nificant pain and financial impact to my family. As her son, it was heart breaking to watch my mother, who had raised eight children and who had been so strong, break down into a child-like, helpless lady who didn’t recognize her own Jose Guzman of Colleyville is president and founder of Guzman23 Foundation. The mis-sion of Guzman23 Foundation is to provide financial assistance to those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and to their families or loved ones when resources or basic insurance are unavailable. A secondary goal is to help improve Alzheimer’s facilities to make them a place where loved ones will be cared for with compassion. You may recognize Jose from his successful eight year career as a pitcher in the majors, most of which were with the Texas Rangers, or from his current work in the broad-cast booth. This Q&A is not about his achieve-ments on the field, but about his heartfelt effort to make a difference in the lives of those im-52 JUNE 2015 | SocietyLifeMag.com

LEGACY

Jon Salinsky


His accomplishments in baseball mark a successful career, but the work done by JOSE GUZMAN on behalf of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease is his legacy.

Jose Guzman of Colleyville is president and founder of Guzman23 Foundation. The mission of Guzman23 Foundation is to provide financial assistance to those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and to their families or loved ones when resources or basic insurance are unavailable. A secondary goal is to help improve Alzheimer’s facilities to make them a place where loved ones will be cared for with compassion. You may recognize Jose from his successful eight year career as a pitcher in the majors, most of which were with the Texas Rangers, or from his current work in the broadcast booth. This Q&A is not about his achievements on the field, but about his heartfelt effort to make a difference in the lives of those impacted by Alzheimer's. He is driven by his deep love for his mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s and who is the inspiration for his foundation. He genuinely cares about people. In our self-centered world, Jose is a breath of fresh air. Jose’s passion is pure.

SOCIETY LIFE: Please describe your relationship with your mother?
JOSE GUZMAN: Well, I was the baby. She had me when she was 45 years old. She already had seven children, six boys and one girl. I was the surprise eighth child and the youngest by seven years. I went everywhere with her. I watched her work so hard around the house to raise my brothers and my sister. Both of my parents sacrificed so much for us, but I was so close to my mother. She was the most beautiful woman in the world. I loved to just sit and visit with her. She was such a sweet soul. Even as a grown man, when I would visit her in Puerto Rico, she would cry every time I left to play ball back in the States.

SL: How would you describe Alzheimer’s and how did it impact your family?
JG: I can only speak from my personal experience of the significant pain and financial impact to my family. As her son, it was heart breaking to watch my mother, who had raised eight children and who had been so strong, break down into a childlike, helpless lady who didn’t recognize her own family. It was so hard to be a stranger to her every time I visited. My sister, who lived in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico took the brunt of the challenges. My sister was the only daughter and lived only a few miles from her. She quit her job and with her husband, took my mother into her home. It was extremely challenging for them to care for her. My sister cared for her full-time for 10 years. I was living in Texas as a single dad raising two teenage sons, and I would visit her as often as I could. Unfortunately, at the time, we didn’t know much about the disease. Every day was a new challenge to figure out how best to care for her.

SL: How did your mother endure the challenges imposed by the disease?
JG: She regressed slowly for a number of years and during that time she would become very frustrated. I knew something was wrong because she would repeat herself on the phone each time I called. Suddenly, she declined quickly to a point where she became merely a shell of a person. She couldn’t express her feelings or thoughts any longer— much less care for herself.

SL: What areas of Alzheimer’s support could have been better?
JG: This is why I’m so passionate about my foundation—this is exactly where my foundation focuses its efforts. It would have helped us so much to know what my mother was thinking and feeling, and possibly learn ways to make her more comfortable. If we had better access to information about what happens to people who suffer from Alzheimer’s, possibly we would have made better or different decisions. Caregiver support and medical care in Puerto Rico is completely different than on the U.S. mainland. There wasn’t anything comparable in the little island town of Santa Isabel.

SL: When did you decide to establish your foundation?
JG: Through participating in various charity fundraisers all over the DFW area, I noticed there were no charities benefiting family members or caregivers who endure and sacrifice so much as a result of Alzheimer’s. My friend, Tom Puckett, who coordinates golf tournaments for many different foundations, encouraged me to start my own foundation and pursue my passion to help those families and caregivers. This was in March of 2011.

SL: Twenty-five years ago, as a major leaguer, would you have ever believed that you would be so substantially dedicated to such a worthy cause?
JG: Honestly, no, but I always knew I wanted to give back and help in some way. It took finding something I was extremely passionate about and where there was a great need. When you’re young and focused on your career you don’t always look that far into the future.

SL: How did you become so compassionate?
JG: It’s the way my parents raised me. I always have joy in my heart when I can put a smile on the face of a person who is facing adversity.

SL: How does the board of directors determine the most appropriate manner to allocate resources?
JG: My wife and I spearhead most of the activities along with our wonderful and committed board. They have all been with us since the beginning and believe in our mission. This terrible disease has affected us all personally. As a relatively small foundation, our decisions are first based on need and our ability to serve.

SL: When do you experience the most heartfelt moments through your foundation?
JG: There are several. When we provide caregiver services to patients who are in their final stages of Alzheimer’s and who so much remind me of my mother. When, over the years, we deliver meals or groceries to a patient only to learn that they have passed away. When we visit elderly patients who don’t have family members to care for them and as a result run out of groceries or money. Or when visiting a family who has sacrificed their own needs to provide in-home care or food for a loved one, only to discover their refrigerator is broken or their power is cut off. When a couple of years ago in front of over 200 people at a tournament awards ceremony, I asked for a show of hands from those who have been affected by Alzheimer’s, and every hand in the room went up.

SL: The 5th Annual “Putting for a Purpose” Charity Golf Tournament benefitting Guzman23 Foundation is coming up on October 12th, 2015 in Trophy Club and has sold out every year. Aside from supporting a great cause, what else can participants expect?
JG: There are many things including lunch, dinner, hand-rolled cigars, drinks during and after the tournament. A host of local celebrities from various sports will also participate. Park Place Lexus is sponsoring a raffle giveaway for a great golf trip for two to play in a championship golf tournament at Pebble Beach including the airfare, hotel and transportation.

SL: Does “23” have more significance than just your jersey number?
JG: The “23” also represents the 23 pairs of chromosomes containing the genes that make up a person’s blueprint. Certain chromosomal abnormalities can indicate if a person is genetically dispositioned to have Alzheimer’s. The fact that “23” was also my number in baseball was merely a coincidence— albeit a significant one.

To learn more about the Guzman23 Foundation and “Putting for a Purpose” Charity Golf Tournament please visit: guzman23foundation.com

Read the full article at http://www.omagdigital.com/article/LEGACY/2031485/262414/article.html.

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here