Peggy Toovey: Alan’s sister and Chair of the Board
Alan was my baby brother. I am the oldest of three children born to Virgil and Isobel Stafford. Alan was the baby of the family. After our father’s death, our mother married Lyle Gruemmer who had four children of his own. After Alan’s accident, the entire blended family rallied together to support Alan and our parents in the caregiving aspect as Alan and our parents adjusted to a new way of life. For a long time, it was hard to go on with life as if nothing happened. Something major happened and we all had to learn how to adjust. But we did have to go on and live our lives. We had to get up, go to work, maintain our friendships, raise our children and continue on in our new reality.
I am married to my high school sweetheart for the last 34+ years. We have two amazing children and have lived in the Bay Area all of our lives, with a brief 3 year residence in Santa Barbara. I work as a legal secretary and have for the past 35 years. When our mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, I took over the role of managing Alan’s household and care. Luckily, he was in very good hands and his caregivers made my life easier, and I was able to focus in on my mother and her needs at the time, as well as assisting with my dad, raising two kids, working, and just life.
I, along with others, decided to start this Foundation in Alan’s memory because we strongly believe that Alan lived as long as he did for a reason. And we believe the reason was to make us realize what we already knew - that he was extraordinary; he had extraordinary family; he had extraordinary friends; he had extraordinary caregivers; he had extraordinary care. Others are not as fortunate as Alan was and we have banded together to reach out so that others may be able to have extraordinary opportunities. We are new and evolving. Our end goal is to help people who have suffered a life altering spinal cord injury and attempt to assist them with an item or two that will make their life and their family’s life just a bit more manageable. It may take a variety of forms, including a ramp to get into their home, bathroom equipment; computer equipment; upgrade to a vehicle so it is wheelchair accessible; the needs are endless.
This is where our donors come in. We cannot do this alone and need good samaritans’ financial assistance. Unfortunately, there are more and more people suffering from spinal cord injuries. While we cannot reach them all, we want to be able to reach out to as many as we financially can. We appreciate your support.
Janice Alamillo: Friend of Alan’s and Vice-Chair of the Board
I met Alan during our senior year in high school and we became fast friends. We spent time going out to dinner and movies, listening to live music, dancing, and relaxing together at home. Throughout our years together, Alan helped me see the positive things in life, always with a sense of humor. He was just as excited to share a story about his past as he was to plan his goals for the future. My family and I miss Alan’s spark for life and his kind soul everyday, but I am happy that his memory will be carried on through helping others in his situation.
Kim Martin-Pickard: Registered Nurse at John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek, CA and committee member of the Board
I am a Registered Nurse at John Muir Medical Center Walnut Creek Campus. I provided care to Alan from beginning of his injury and though the years of his journey till his death. Our team goal is to honor Alan by helping others have the best possible life post spinal cord injuries.
Doug Toovey: Alan’s brother-in-law and committee member of the Board
I am Alan’s brother-in-law; married Peggy in 1980. The rest, as they say, is history. I am a business executive and work in San Francisco. Alan was 9 years old when I began dating his sister. He was a fun and happy kid – always talking and always laughing. He was like a little brother to me. My family is from Southern California. We moved to Pleasant Hill in 1963 and my father still lives in the same home we grew up in. I am the second oldest of four boys. At the time of Alan’s accident, I was working in Incline Village that summer to pay for college. Peggy and I had only been married just over 2 years at the time. I raced from Incline Village to John Muir Hospital that evening on July 22, 1982. None of us were prepared for the curve life just threw our way. But, as a family, we pulled together and adjusted. I learned a lot about Alan. He amazed me at how he was able to adapt to life in his wheelchair. He made friends easily. He went to school, to college, to concerts, to Hawaii and other places which interested him. He bought a house, he hosted parties, he went to parties. He was always surrounded by people who loved him. Alan was one of a kind and it was I who learned from him. I think of him every day.
Dean Partlow: Friend of Alan’s and Secretary of the Board
Alan and I met in cooking class in 7th grade and quickly became close friends. I remember the summer when I heard about his terrible accident and the disbelief that my friend would never walk again. It was through this tragedy that Alan's strength, adventuresome spirit, and zest for life really became clear. We generated so many fun and funny memories of rock concerts, trips to Hawaii and Colorado, and summer solstice parties. His home became the place for many of us to hangout, watch movies, or have a BBQ. What I liked most and will miss the most about Alan was his love and enthusiasm for being with friends and family. I hope that through our small foundation, "Friends of Alan," we can raise some much needed money for individuals with spinal injuries in memory of Alan Stafford.
Jason Toovey: Alan’s nephew and committee member of the Board
Alan was my uncle and Doug and Peggy are my parents. I work as a corporate controller for a local property management firm and I am glad to have the opportunity to volunteer for what I believe to be a very important cause. Having been born several years after Uncle Alan’s accident, I only knew him as he was. To me, he was Uncle Alan, not Uncle Alan in a wheelchair. I always thought he was the greatest. While we were small enough, he would give us a ride as we sat on his tray; when we got too big to sit on his tray, we would stand on the 3 back of his wheelchair and he would give us rides. We always looked forward to seeing him. We enjoyed our family gatherings. As we got older, we would take turns feeding him (or rather, Uncle Alan would ask one of us to get him a bite of something). One of my favorite memories is the chair rides he would give me, my sister and my cousins. I’m glad to be a part of this foundation and help others like my uncle.
I am Alan’s older brother. I have 4 children, Sarah, Theresa, Christianna and John Paul. As Alan’s older sibling by three years, we spent substantial time together growing up. As the younger brother, Alan suffered the normal abuses of a younger male sibling, but also always knew that he had an ally when needed. Looking back, I can see how Alan’s strength and spirit were being cultivated throughout his childhood, in preparation for the fate that lied ahead. He was very positive and light spirited, He truly loved life and people. When I became a young adult, starting a family and career, we had the honor of sharing Alan’s home for a few years. This is where our youngest was born. It was very special to see the unconventional, and truly loving relationship that Alan developed with his nieces and nephews 2 as they were babies and growing up. He could not pick them up or snuggle them in the normal sense, but they all knew how he felt about them. He would often have two or three of them riding around on his chair at the same time.
I will always cherish the memories of our excursions to follow the Grateful Dead (and many other live acts). Alan loved live music, the people, and the energy of the crowd and artist. Alan was always a magnet for people. He came to know many in the “Tribe of Deadheads” and many would come by the wheelchair section to greet him regularly. This included famous Deadhead and basketball star Bill Walton, along with the curious deadheads (in altered states). Alan would always greet them with a smile and actually found delight in the curiosity. We had some amazing experiences and Alan was always ready for the next “life experience” to come his way, with little regard to limitations. A beautiful thing!
I truly value the contribution that Alan made to our extended family, and everyone that knew him. Beforehand after the event that changed and shaped his life, Alan showed us the meaning of love, friendship, resilience, strength, and most of all true spirit and a joy for life. What I consider true “greatness”.
I am excited and honored to be involved in “Friends of Alan Stafford” to continue to share Alan’s spirit and his love for life with others who face the same challenges Alan overcame as a victim of a spinal chord injury.
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