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Q&A: Driving Awareness

Aug 26, 2015 02:36PM ● Published by Dia

Thirty years ago, José Guzman was chasing wins in the Major Leagues. Today, the Colleyville resident and former Texas Rangers pitcher is chasing a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. He founded Guzman23 Foundation, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to the families of those suffering from Alzheimer’s. 

On October 12, the Foundation will host its annual charity golf tournament, Putting for a Purpose, at the Trophy Club Country Club. We caught up with Guzman to talk about golf, giving back, and his inspiration to get involved with raising Alzheimer’s awareness.

Q: You started Guzman23 Foundation as a tribute to your mother, Maria Mirabal Guzman. Tell us about her.

A: She had me at 45 years old. I was the baby. I went everywhere with her. She had raised seven other children. I watched her work so hard around the house caring for all my brothers and my sister. Before I was born, she did odd jobs to save money to buy a lot in the neighborhood where I was raised. I watched both of my parents sacrifice 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. When my mom got dementia and then Alzheimer’s, my sister took care of her the entire time. I decided I wanted to do something to help.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about your work with the Foundation?

A: When we deliver meals or groceries to some of
the patients through the years and get to visit with
the caregivers. Even though many of them don’t understand what’s going on, I can tell it’s a comfort
to them. Also, when we provide caregiver services
to so many patients who are in their final stages of Alzheimer’s (they remind me of my mother so much). And last, being able to help elderly patients who don’t have family members caring for them. Just knowing we have been able to help them even though they don’t understand where the help came from.

Q: How did the Foundation get its name?

A: The “23” represents the 23 chromosomes that detect genetics and if you are genetically dispositioned to have Alzheimer’s disease (or other diseases). The fact that it was also my number in baseball was merely a coincidence, albeit a significant one.

Q: Tell us a little about how funds are allocated.

A: My wife and I spearhead most of the fundraising activities along with our wonderful, committed Board. They have all been with us since the beginning and believe in our mission. Our Board and many of our committee members have all been affected personally by this terrible disease. We base our decisions on

need first and then our ability to serve, being a relatively small foundation. While we’d like to be able to help everyone we hear about that is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, we tend to allocate funds to those who are in the most dire need of help immediately. We see some very tragic circumstances. We are involved with many of the memory care facilities in the DFW area and they notify us when they see an extreme need. If we have the funds, we provide them. 

Q: What do you want the community to know about Alzheimer’s?

A: I can’t think of one person I’ve met who hasn’t
been touched by this disease, and the cases of it are increasing. We are going to have a major problem on our hands in the coming years if we don’t find a cure. What I am doing with Guzman23 Foundation is simply trying to help the ones who are suffering now and bring awareness to everyone of the resources available when they are facing this horrible disease.

Q: The fifth-annual “Putting for a Purpose” charity golf tournament is next month. What can attendees expect at this event?

A: Lunch and dinner. Drinks on the course and afterwards. Celebrities from various sports activities in the area. Hand-rolled cigars. Live music by Steve Helms. A great raffle giveaway provided by Park Place Lexus for a golf trip for two to play in a championship golf tournament at Pebble Beach including airfare, hotel and transportation. And the most fun-filled, laid-back, fast-moving golf tournament in DFW.

Q: What are some other ways the community can get involved?

A: We always accept donations through our website, Guzman23Foundation.com, and bereavement funds set up in lieu of flowers can be a great way to honor a loved one who has suffered from this disease. We will begin planning next year’s tournament later this year and the funds raised from corporate sponsorships help tremendously in our efforts.

Q: What is your hope for the future of Alzheimer’s research and treatment?

A: Medicine is closing in on a cure for this disease.
It is imperative that government funds continue to
be allocated to researching a cure and/or providing medications that can prolong the memories and brain function of those afflicted. If the population of our country that suffers from this disease continues to grow at the current rate, the financial impact will be extreme for the U.S. and its citizens.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: My wife and I do all of the administrative work, so we don’t have expensive staff or overhead. I think people like to know that their money is being put to good use. 

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