Season for Caring - BrightStar Care of Austin gives a Caregiver for Austin Man with ALS, a Scholarship and Job for His Son

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BrightStar Care home health agency gives a full Scholarship for medical training as a Certified Nursing Assistant and a job offer for son caring for his father with ALS as part of Austin American-Statesman Season for Caring campaign, Austin's Largest Holiday Charity Program

When BrightStar Care of Austin found out about the Gracia family's need through Hospice Austin, they knew they wanted to help. As a part of the Statesman Season for Caring program, Austin’s largest charity program run by Austin American-Statesman newspaper, Hospice Austin nominated the Gracia Family. Marcelo Gracia is diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Marcelo’s 24 year old son, Gael Gracia, has been caring for his father for six years. The disease has slowly progressed and now, at 45 years old, Marcelo cannot feed or bathe himself or stand without a walker. Gael is his father's primary caregiver and also works at a local laundromat to support the family.

Hospice Austin contacted BrightStar Care when they found out the Gracia family had been accepted into Season for Caring program. As a private home care and medical staffing company, Hospice Austin knew BrightStar Care would know how to help Marcelo Gracia. George Sanchez, the owner BrightStar Care of Austin, met with the Gracias in October and was so touched by the family, he offered to give Hospice Austin a reduced rate for a caregiver to come in five days a week, four hours a day. “We’re picking up half the cost of the caregiver however long he lives,” Sanchez said. Season for Caring funds will pay for the other half.

“George’s company has always done good work for us in the past,” said Melinda Marble, Communications Coordinator for Hospice Austin. BrightStar Care has made sure to give Gracia a Spanish-speaking caregiver as well as one who can give him medication.

“This is really giving good peace of mind for Gael and giving Marcelo the care he needs,” Marble said.

BrightStar Care has gone one step farther. On Friday, Sanchez presented Gael Gracia with a full scholarship to become a Certified Nursing Assistant and the promise of a job with BrightStar Care once he graduates. “When we met Gael we were so impressed by the quality of care he was providing his dad,” Sanchez knew he was a natural caregiver.

Sanchez knows, though, that, school is something for Gael Gracia’s future. Right now, he is working on caring for his dad.

“Thank you so much,” Gael Gracia said when he received the gift. “I just try my best to be able to care for my dad. That’s mainly what I do.”
“You should be very proud of your son,” Sanchez told Marcelo Gracia. “It’s just how he is,” Marcelo Gracia said in Spanish to Sanchez. “Thank you.”

Another big need for Marcelo Gracia is an electric wheelchair and adaptive devices, including an apparatus to hold his head and keep it from falling forward as his neck muscles become weaker. Britt Sitzes, Branch Manager of National Seating and Mobility, is working with the family to find the right equipment. Last year, he also helped Season for Caring find a motorized wheelchair for a recipient who was injured at work 30 years before. Before the wheelchair for Marcelo Gracia can be donated, the family needs to move to a first-floor apartment. Hospice Austin is working on the logistics of that and hoping to do that as soon as possible.

A local family is helping the family by donating to Season for Caring for this family instead of buying one another gifts. They are donating $2,000 toward caregiver costs for Marcelo Gracia; a bike and helmet, a train set and more train toys for Marcelo Gracia to give to his 4-year-old grandson, bedding, a mattress topper and pillows for Marcelo Gracia and gift cards.

A widower, who lost his wife to ALS last year, has donated money for Marcelo Gracia’s wife, who now lives in Illinois, to visit him. Marcelo Gracia also has received an adjustable bed from Factory Mattress and a twin bed for Gael Gracia to be closer to his dad at night.

Thanks to BrightStar Care, National Seating and Mobility, Factory Mattress and other Austinites, many things on Marcelo Gracia’s wish list are being checked off. He still needs more funds for caregiving hours, a Spanish-speaking attorney to create a will, a van with a wheelchair lift, and help paying for Marcelo Gracia’s funeral.

To find out more about the Gracia Family or to provide an item on the wish list, contact Hospice Austin, 512-342-4726,



  • Article by Mark Wilson and Nicole Villalpando

BrightStar Care of Austin proudly provide home care and support for seniors, including 24 hour in home health care, and support in independent and assisted living communities. We provide all levels of home care from companion services to skilled nursing, medical staffing, home care, in-home skilled nursing, in-home physical therapy for pediatric, adult and geriatric patients, companion and personal care for elders with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. We also provide home child care, sitter and nanny services for children and support for new mothers. We accept most Long Term Care insurance benefits, provide hospice care, live-in care, CNA, caregiver, RN, LPN, RN supervision, compassionate care, and compatibility guarantees. We are an ALS Society partner, providing care for developmentally disabled and individuals of all ages. Other services include safe discharge and transportation from the hospital or rehab facility, post op care both short and long term, pre-operation and preparation help and assistance, client monitoring for out of town family members. Proudly serving Central Austin, Eastern Travis County, North Austin, East Austin, West Austin, Lake Travis, South Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, and Tarrytown.

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George Sanchez
since: 12/2014
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