It has been over a month since I last blogged, and it has been a very tough one for me and my family. On June 18th, my father, Terry Gorton, passed away after battling the terrible disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). It was only a year ago that my father was first diagnosed with the disease. If you don't know what ALS is it is often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," and is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, people in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. It is a terrible disease that makes leaves you feeling helpless with the diagnosis. Doctors have yet to know what causes it and there is no cure for the disease. As soon as my father was diagnosed, Steve and I knew we needed to be there for my Dad and for my family in Phoenix. I am so glad we did this and so grateful to be able to spend the last year with my Dad. Especially, having him there for the birth of Stevie!
My father was a loving husband, caring friend, and compassionate leader at work. There are not many things he was not good at, but my Dad was best at being Dad. Living in the house with my Mom, my sister Lindsey and it wasn't always easy, and my Dad’s ideas often got outvoted by the three of us. However, whatever girly thing we wanted to do, my Dad was always there with a big smile of his face, laughing with us. When my mom was working at the radio station early in the morning when we were little girls, my Dad was always there for us braiding out hair and getting us ready for the day.
My Dad was a genuine All- American man. He grew up in Michigan where he was an Eagle Scout, and wrestler. On my parents honey moon, he and my mom packed up their VW bug with $700 in their pockets and moved to Arizona to complete his degree. My dad was a business major at ASU, and a lifelong Sundevil. He had an entrepreneurial spirit and twenty four years ago, he started Mountain States Specialties, a sign company. My Dad loved being a small business owner. He loved going to the office and was proud of every project he did. It’s hard to drive around Phoenix and not be reminded of my Dad because his signs are everywhere, and every time he would see one he would get a huge smile on his face and tell me all about the project.
Despite having this terrible disease, my Dad rarely complained and always kept a positive attitude. It is no coincidence that Dad was always my biggest supporter and motivator. Between swimming and running I spent most of my life training for something and my Dad was always there watching, timing and cheering me on. And on the days I didn’t want to get out of bed because it was cold and snowy in Colorado, I just needed to think about my Dad and he would get me out the door from a thousand miles away. My Dad had the work ethic of a Midwest farmer getting up sometimes at 2:30 AM so that he could get a head start on the day. His optimism and encouragement made it impossible to fail. He supported me in everything I did, and you always left a conversation with him confident you would succeed, weather it was sports, school work, or your personal life.
I hope to carry the hardworking, loving, strong and positive attitude he carried everyday. I hope to raise Stevie in the fun, loving and encouraging way my father raised my sister and I. As, I get back into shape and return to running and racing I know that he is with me every step of the way and pushing me to be better.