Everyone knows Pete Karlovits – he is the guy out fishing at the crack of dawn. He’s the little league coach on the baseball field. He’s throwing the ball with his son and his dog on Sandy beach. He’s helping a neighbor with a house project or giving career advice to a friend. He works hard. He answers his phone. He shows up. He listens. He makes us laugh. This fiercely loyal father, husband, brother, uncle, cousin, son, grandson, nephew, co-worker is most of all – a friend to everyone who knows him.
Pete loves nothing more than the simple pleasures of life – kicking back with his dog Mako, or cooking and entertaining friends and family with his wife Heather. But nothing brings him more happiness than watching his 10-year-old son, Drew, play Hockey, Baseball, and Lacrosse or building Lego creations, racing RC cars, and most of all fishing.
Pete’s simple pleasures first became more difficult at the end of October, when flu-like symptoms set in. Weakness in his arms and legs made daily life simply exhausting. He felt like Superman with kryptonite in his pockets. From that point forward, the medical appointments and diagnostic testing began. Initial indications pointed to a muscular autoimmune condition. But after undergoing months of treatments for that, with no response, the situation became more serious. Doctors were concerned with Pete’s nerve degenerative symptoms.
On February 19th Pete was seen at the ALS Clinic at MGH. With his wife Heather in lock step with him through-out this journey – they assumed they’d just “check another box” to rule out an unthinkable diagnosis. But they would soon hear those 3 letters that should never stand alone, in that order, for anyone, let alone a young, otherwise healthy father – ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). As Pete and Heather attempt to wrap their heads around how a healthy, active 45-year-old man could be dealt a blow like this, they must contend with the immediate needs of this cruel disease – the emotional, the physical and the financial. We all know as a result of ALS media attention through fund raisers like the “Ice Bucket Challenge” that this is an expensive disease – medical equipment, treatment, therapies, and basic daily care giving. No one has a personal financial plan for an illness like this.
It’s devastating to watch the people you love, suffer. However, friends, family and community can ease the financial burden of this disease so that this family can dedicate their time, strength and all their efforts into caring for Pete and spending time with each other. Those closest to them know that Pete and Heather would be among the first to step forward for a friend. Their gratitude for your contribution, your thoughts and prayers, your encouraging words, is unending. Please keep Pete, Heather and Drew in your hearts. Thank you for taking the time to read their story.