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My ALS Story – Gary Jarrett and Family

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Born in Canada, Gary Jarrett was the youngest of five kids who spent the majority of his childhood in Southern California. In 1973 the family moved to the Central Coast area where his dad started “Ed’s Mobile Homes” in Nipomo. Gary met Christine when he was 13 years old and she was 11, living in Arroyo Grande, California.

They became high school sweethearts at 17 and 15. Gary was always very athletic, playing baseball and football at Arroyo Grande High School and baseball in Cuesta College. Gary graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in Computer Science in 1984 and he and Christine were married a few weeks later.

After graduating from Cal Poly, Gary began bike riding and was an avid bike rider. He has worked in software development jobs for over 38 years, with projects literally focused on “rocket science.” Christine has been very involved in bookkeeping and was a paralegal before working in her own freelance business. They have raised two sons, Evan and Nathan.

The Jarrett family enjoyed an active lifestyle and shared a love for cycling. In 2006, they even participated in Golden West’s Central Coast Century Ride on their tandem bike, with Gary in the front and Christine and their two sons in the back.

The family loved being together, enjoying outdoor activities, and giving back to their local community through service. After the boys grew up and married, the Jarrett’s welcomed daughters-in-law Michelle and Megan into their many “Team Jarrett” activities.

In an ironic twist of fate, 14 years later, Gary began experiencing drop foot and a lack of energy while biking, which he thought was just an attribute of age. In early 2020, Gary started visiting doctors to diagnose the cause of his drop foot. In December 2020, after nine months of tests and visits to the neurologist, he was diagnosed with ALS. Gary was 59 years old.

“I had to stop riding when I could no longer do it safely, due to the weakness in my legs from ALS,” Gary shared. “My daily life has changed significantly. I used to do projects around the house, cook and was always doing things with Christine. I am now in a wheelchair, so those activities have been replaced with more time working, visiting with family and friends, some traveling, and watching sports — live and on TV. It’s very different from what I used to do, but still have fun and enjoy life.  Luckily, my work life has continued to be remote since COVID-19 and it is going very well. I look forward to getting a van soon so I can get into the office more frequently without assistance.”

“Gary is an amazing husband, father, brother, uncle, friend and co-worker. He is so thankful for all of the wonderful people he gets to share this life with. He has such a positive outlook and even when things get tough, he continues to enjoy life every day. We all love him and are inspired by him. – Christine Jarrett

“Support from family and friends is key to living with ALS. So many people want to help, just let people help you. It puts a different perspective on life and helps me realize how fortunate I have been with health and always having a loving family and community of friends.” -Gary Jarrett, living with ALS since 2020

“All cases of ALS are different, and I am lucky and seem to have a slow-progressing disease,” said Gary. “I am also lucky in that it first showed in my feet and has slowly worked its way up my legs and now slowly into other parts. I do not want my life to shrink. I try to do all that I can from where I am at.”

They joined the Central Coast Ride and Rally to Defeat ALS in 2022 to help drive the search for effective treatments and cures for ALS and raise support for those affected by ALS.

Gary, along with Team Jarrett, will be joining ALS Golden West at the 2023 Central Coast Ride and Rally to Defeat ALS on Saturday, September 16 in Bang the Drum Brewery San Luis Obispo. Team Jarrett has nearly tripled their fundraising goal of $2,000 in support of Golden West’s mission and the ALS community.

“It really is all about living with ALS,” shared Gary. “Life continues to be exciting and worthwhile due to the continued support of family, friends, work, and coworkers.”

Thank you to the entire Jarrett family for sharing your story with Golden West and the ALS community! We invite you to share your ALS story as well. In doing so, you are making a difference as we work together to ensure access to essential care services and to drive the search for effective treatments and cures.

You can also inspire people to get involved in raising ALS awareness and support by joining Golden West’s Ride to Defeat ALS events.

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