Commentary: Alzheimer’s takes a life but not a spirit that lives on through Mariners outfielder

I did not know Suzy Bishop. But thanks to former Huskies and current Mariners outfielder, Braden Bishop, I feel like I did. Sadly, Mrs. Bishop passed away this weekend, about five years after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

A few years back, Braden started the 4MOM Charity, raising money for Alzheimer’s research. It was the continuation of what began when every player on the Huskies and Arizona wrote “4MOM” on their arms, shoes and wristbands on a Mother’s Day game four years ago. In the process, he shared his mom’s story with us all – a fully-functioning, Emmy-winning TV producer who slowly succumbed to the disease.

He held annual fundraisers in Seattle and Arizona and gathered teams for charity walks in Seattle and San Francisco. Best of all, his teammates supported the effort every step of the way. During Spring Training, Braden’s pledge to donate money to the cause for every single, double, triple or home run was met with similar pledges from a number of Mariners, not to mention players from other teams.

This weekend, after Suzy’s passing, Bishop posted a letter to his mom on Twitter, reading in part, “Since 2014, I’ve watched you go through the most miserable, most debilitating, and most heartbreaking journey I’ve ever seen. You went from the most put together, motivated, organized and passionate woman to someone who couldn’t even hold a conversation. That was the disease you were fighting. It took every freedom you had. And it crushed you mentally and physically...I will miss you every single day. I promise I will not let a day go by where I don’t honor your memory and focus on the things you instilled in me...To my biggest fan, my first love, my rock, my superwoman. I love you. Your son.”

Tonight, we send our heartfelt condolences to Braden and his family. It took a maturity and strength to use his platform to further the cause – to raise awareness about the sobering realities of the disease and the effect it has on the patient and their families.

Bishop also announced the upcoming creation of the “Suzy Bishop Memorial Grant,” which will be gifted once a year to a family affected by Alzheimer’s and its challenges.

Suzy Bishop may have passed. But it’s clear that Braden’s courage, character and efforts are a reflection of her legacy that will continue to live on.

Husky fan, Mariner fan, human being: We’re all in Braden’s corner. And this world is a better place – and one day, hopefully one where crippling diseases can be eradicated – in part, because of efforts like “4MOM.”