Clovis News

Family afflicted by ALS draws awareness to fatal disease

The Tringali family gathers near a family friend’s house in Coarsegold. From left are David Jr., David, Zoe, Amber and Kalista Tringali.
The Tringali family gathers near a family friend’s house in Coarsegold. From left are David Jr., David, Zoe, Amber and Kalista Tringali.

Amber Tringali, along with the rest of the country, watched the Ice Bucket Challenge go viral in summer 2014. Thousands of people posted videos of buckets full of ice water being dumped on someone’s head to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The message didn’t hit home until Amber’s husband, 31-year-old David Tringali, was diagnosed with ALS in September 2015. Doctors estimated he has two to five years to live.

“I didn’t know that dumping cold water over your body is how you feel every day when you have ALS,” she said. “Their nerves twitch. It’s really shocking.”

Every 90 minutes, someone in the United States dies from ALS, Amber said.

“Most people don’t get it until they’re 50, 60 or older,” Amber said. “He just turned 31. He’s considered a young face of ALS.”

The couple has been married for 10 years and have three children: Zoe, 7, Kalista, 5, and David Jr., 2.

David Tringali grew up in Clovis and graduated from Clovis High School in 2002. He obtained a degree in business from Phoenix University and worked as an office manager in the Fresno and San Jose offices of law firm Bradford and Barthel for about a decade.

“Around February of last year he started to not have any feeling in his right arm. He thought it was carpal tunnel,” Amber said. “ After tons of tests and specialists and going to San Francisco for neurologists, he was diagnosed in September with ALS.”

The lack of feeling is spreading to his left arm now, Amber said, and David has fallen several times.

“His legs are getting weak,” she said. “He’s getting set up for a motorized wheelchair.”

Symptoms differ among ALS patients, but the disease is progressive and there is no cure.

In ALS patients, motor neurons that reach from the brain to the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body die, so the brain can no longer control muscle movement. Without movement, the muscles atrophy, or waste away.

The future looks grim for David, Amber said.

“He won’t be able to blink or eat on his own, or swallow his own saliva,” she said.

Still, she holds onto the hope that a cure may come through just in time. David is involved in a trial of a drug not yet approved by the Federal Drug Administration. The drug may be able to slow the disease down by 35 percent, Amber said, but the trial is only a year long.

“We’re just trying to give him the best quality of life while he’s still with us and have him make memories with his kids,” she said.

David used to enjoy playing guitar, but can’t anymore due to the disease. He can no longer take the family dogs for a walk, explore the mountains or go hiking near their home in Coarsegold, Amber said.

“It’s been sad. There are all these things he can’t do anymore,” she said.

Amber said David was also a workaholic, but has retired since his diagnosis. He has been approved for Medicare because of the terminal illness, but the family has lost a significant portion of its income.

The Tringalis have set up a crowdfunding campaign to help fund home renovations to make everything accessible for David’s wheelchair. The bathroom must be remodeled, along with adding lifts and ramps to the home, Amber said.

More than $7,000 has been raised out of the family’s goal of $25,000. Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/alsdaddy.

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