This is exactly why we need to create more awareness about ALS

Posted on: December 5, 2010
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Family and friends are remembering a White Oak High School freshman and the remarkable impact she made on the entire community in the past year.

Sabrina Parker, 16, died on Tuesday surrounded by family and close friends at her home after a year-long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70. Sabrina — who was diagnosed at 15 — was the youngest patient to be treated for the disease at Duke University Hospital.

Her grandfather Noland Parker said that Sabrina maintained a positive attitude and made the best of every moment.

“She enjoyed life the best she could, and we allowed her free reign on that … We didn’t try to hold her back because we were scared something might happen,” Noland said. “She liked her freedom and wanted to get up and go when she wanted to and not let machines or this disease hold her down.”

Noland and his wife Zelma became Sabrina’s legal guardians after her mother, Melissa Kay Parker, died from ALS at age 24. He said that they enjoyed watching Sabrina grow into a mature and respectful young woman.

“She was kind of quiet and she got along with everybody and she did everything that other kids were doing,” he said. “She played softball and liked to be around her friends, talking and texting on the phone; she liked listening to music.”

As her health worsened, Sabrina lost her ability to breathe, swallow and speak on her own, and her weight began to drop significantly. She had to eat through a feeding tube and had tracheotomy surgery in September to aid with her breathing and speech.

Because of her daily medications, breathing treatments and fatigue, she was unable to return back to school. However, it was her relatives and friends who stayed by her side along the way to keep her going.

On Oct. 16, Sabrina’s boyfriend Matthew Scozzari, 15, and 40 of her friends at White Oak High School surprised her with a special homecoming dance at a relative’s nearby barn. Matthew said that he was honored to spend every moment that he could with her.

“She made me want to be a better person… Just being with her those last few moments I wouldn’t change for the world,” he said.

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