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Community Rallies to Support Alhambra Alum

Jul 19, 2018 07:16AM

In October 2016, at just 21 years old, Osiel Mendoza was diagnosed with ALS. Osiel is a Martinez native. He graduated from Alhambra High School in 2013 and the University of Oregon in 2017. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, progressively weakens one’s muscles. It is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, named after the famous MLB player that battled with the illness. ALS is considered to be very rare in the United States. It is even more rare for a 21 year old to be diagnosed with ALS; the average age at the time of diagnosis is 55. There is currently no cure for ALS.

Throughout his childhood, Osiel was involved in numerous community activities, particularly sports, including Martinez Youth Baseball and Softball Association, Heritage Soccer Association, and PHMSA AYSO. Osiel played on the varsity soccer team at Alhambra all four years and was captain of the team his senior year. Osiel was diagnosed with ALS at the beginning of his senior year at the University of Oregon, and just a few days after proposed to his childhood sweetheart, Bella, whom he met at Martinez Junior High School. The couple married in September 2017. Bella trains dogs for a living and has been training their golden retriever, Hendricks, to help Osiel. Osiel’s condition is progressing, and he is now confined to a wheelchair. Since his diagnosis, he has devoted himself to raising awareness for ALS and ALS research.

The Martinez community has gone to great lengths to support Osiel and Bella. Last year, a benefit soccer match was held in Osiel’s honor at Hidden Lakes Park. There will be another one this year on Saturday, July 28, at the Alhambra High School soccer field, from 11am-2pm. There will also be a celebration walk hosted on Saturday, July 21, at Mt. Wanda. The event is from 9:15am to 12:30pm and includes a walk up Mt. Wanda, music, and food. 100% of money raised at this event will go directly to Osiel and Bella in order to help them cover their rent. The goal is to raise enough money for one year’s rent. The message of the event is: “There may not be a cure, but there is a community that cares. Friends matter. From our home to theirs, let’s keep the lights burning bright! Be a part of the love! Why? Because on the walk of life there are many hardships along the way, and we have an opportunity to make life a little easier for Osiel’s journey.” Please consider attending these events in order to show your support for Osiel and raise awareness for ALS.

* By Sophie Corbett with Information provided by Mark and Jeannie Eitelgeorge and Monica Higgins