Former Washington Husky Braden Bishop is one of the rising stars in the Seattle Mariners organization.
"He's come a long way, from where he was coming out of the draft, he's made a ton of adjustments on the field and certainly everyone knows his story off the field,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais.
Braden’s heartbreaking story began during his junior season at the University of Washington.
"I'll never forget the night I was told, it was September of 2014, I was back at school, I played a month in Cape Cod that summer and she had known, and they were trying to figure a way to tell my brother and I," said Bishop.
She is Braden's mom, Suzy Bishop, a former standout athlete, a mover-and-shaker in the film industry, and a proud mom of two boys that were excelling in baseball.
"I definitely credit her with my mind set today on how driven she was, how organized she was, how she interacted with people, how she respected people and then her ability to always do the right thing,” said Bishop.
Suzy is Braden's hero and role model, but on that September night Dad would have some bad news. "I remember I was in my apartment at UW on 21st street and my dad called me and asked are you sitting down, and that’s kind of when I knew, oh boy,” said Bishop.
At the age of 54, Suzy was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. "I can just remember like slipping off my couch and sitting on a floor for a while and you know, I get more emotional when I talk about it, maybe because I'm getting older, I'm not sure, it's tough," said Bishop.
His mom now lives in an assisted living center in California near the family’s home, Braden visits every chance he gets.
"It's hard seeing her in facility with people at the end of their life, you walk in and she really doesn't even know what’s going on, I wouldn't wish it on anybody and I guess why that’s why I'm fighting so hard,” said Bishop.
Braden has created a non-profit charity called 4MOM which benefits Alzheimer’s. He’s dedicated to educating other people in hopes of eradicating the disease. In his glove, on his cleats, shaved into his head, the phrase 4MOM is everywhere. The entire Mariners team has got behind a campaign in honor of Suzy.
"I want to reach as many people as possible and just let them know what the disease does and how it affects families, it affects so many people, my dad, my brother, her sister and I just want people to know about that dynamic between family," said Bishop.
Right now, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but researchers say efforts such as Braden’s to raise money and educate are helping.
"The growth it’s had is so much more of a testament to everyone else rather than myself, it’s my charity, but it’s everybody else’s doing and I’m still at a loss of words on where it is at today,” said Bishop.
During spring training Braden is personally donating money to Alzheimer’s for every hit. $10 for a single, $20 for a double, $30 for a triple and $40 for a home run. If you would like more information on the charity or would like to help, you can head to www.4Mom.org.