Passed Away On: 2016-01-25 00:00:00
Lifelong Hollister resident Lenny Alvarez, who beat the odds to battle Lou Gehrig's disease for nearly a decade, finally succumbed to his disease this week, passing away at the age of 51.
Services are planned for Friday, Jan. 29 at St. Benedict's Catholic Church on Fairview Road. There will be a 1:30 p.m. viewing followed by Mass at 2:30 p.m.
Family friend Caren Gastello has set up a GoFundMe account to help the family with funeral expenses. On the site, Gastello said, "Our dear friend Lenny battled A.L.S. for 9 years; he fought hard for his family and friends. Unfortunately, just like most illnesses, the fight left the family with some financial hardships. We would appreciate as much support as possible by helping them with Lenny's funeral expenses. Lenny has the best friends in the world as evidenced by the benefit, A.L.S. walks, and general support. Thank you for your donation!"
Nearly $6,000 toward the $15,000 goal had been raised in the first 17 hours following the creation of the account.
Lenny's wife, Lupe, who runs a daycare business out of her home, thanked her family, friends and the community for its outpouring of support, saying on Facebook that "I am so overwhelmed with so much love and support didn't realize how much u all love us." She thanked everyone for their well wishes and said she was spending time with her children ahead of finalizing funeral arrangements, which should be announced soon.
Lenny Alvarez was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) in April of 2007, acknowledging at the time that people afflicted with the disease rarely live more than five to 10 years. The community quickly rallied around a man who was part of the sideline "chain gang" at San Benito High School football games for nearly 20 years. He previously coached Pop Warner football and was active with the Hollister Heat and Hollister Little League, for which his children played.
The San Francisco 49ers Community Facebook page on Jan. 25 posted a photo of Lenny and Lupe from when they visited with quarterback Colin Kaepernick at the team facility. The organization added the following message to the post: "Our hearts go out to the Alvarez family. Thank you to the late Lenny Alvarez and his loved ones for spending such a memorable day with our team, and for providing us with immeasurable inspiration. #49ersWish."