- Mark Wilson
- Nicole Villalpando American-Statesman Staff
Marcelo Gracia’s body has been slowly deteriorating. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2011. He lives in a small apartment in North Austin with his son, Gael Guadalupe Gracia Garcia, who serves as his primary caregiver.
Some good things are coming Gracia’s way.
He was among the first Statesman Season for Caring recipients to get a new bed from Factory Mattress.
Season for Caring highlights the needs of 12 featured families but helps hundreds of other families through local nonprofit agencies. Gracia, 45, was nominated by Hospice Austin.
For the eighth year, Factory Mattress has donated beds to all the Season for Caring agencies for the featured family or another family that needed them. President Jimmy Windham estimates that’s a $14,000 value. Since 2010, Factory Mattress has donated more than $132,000 worth of beds to the program.
“We think it’s a great program,” Windham said. “We’re 100 percent behind it. We’re always here to support the community, especially at this difficult time of the year.”
Factory Mattress has a long history of giving back to the community, especially when disasters such as floods and tornadoes happen. Season for Caring has become part of its annual community donation plan.
In addition to the Season for Caring donations, Factory Mattress recently has given beds to SAFE for its SafePlace shelter as well as beds for parents of children who are in the intensive care unit at Dell Children’s Medical Center, for children in Texas Baptist Children’s Home in Round Rock and for foster children awaiting placement at Kids at the Crossroads.
“Factory Mattress is blessed and fortunate to have the support of our community,” Windham said. “We feel blessed and honored to give back. Our No. 1 goal is to give people in Austin a good night’s sleep.”
In Gracia’s case, he didn’t need an entire bed set for himself. He had a good queen mattress but needed an adjustable base that would allow him to automatically raise and lower his head with the touch of a button.
Gael Guadalupe Gracia Garcia, 24, helped his father stand at his walker while a team of delivery men hoisted the frame up to their second-floor apartment earlier this month and set it up in his room.
As soon as they left, Gracia Garcia helped his father lie down to give the frame a test run.
Gracia usually has to sleep on his side in order to breathe, but the frame made it easier for him to rest on his back comfortably and gave him just a bit more range of motion that had been lost since his disease began progressing even faster this past year.
Gracia Garcia received a twin bed to put into his father’s bedroom. Now he can be with his father at night if needed instead of sleeping on the living room couch.
The other Season for Caring families will receive beds throughout the month. Gracia was chosen to go first because of his dwindling health.
The biggest needs on Gracia’s wish list are more hours of home health care, an accessible van or a wheelchair lift for their current van, education for Gracia Garcia, a Spanish-speaking attorney to help with Gracia’s will, and pillows and soft flannel sheets for queen and twin beds.
To find out more about the Gracia family or to provide an item on their wish list, contact Hospice Austin, 512-342-4726, hospiceaustin.org.