A longtime resident of the Santa Clarita Valley was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, in 2013, and her family is asking for help.
Loretta Rollins, 69, noticed something was off in Jan. 2010, she felt as though her tongue and teeth were out of alignment somehow. Her speech began slurring and she began having trouble swallowing without choking during meals.
In 2013, Loretta, 66, visited a specialist who noticed Loretta’s tongue quiver and declared, “I’m sorry, but it’s neurological. You won’t see your 75th birthday.”
Doctors agreed on a diagnosis of Bulbar ALS after symptoms continued to get worse and they ran out of tests.
The disease starts at the bulbar region, or where the spine meets the brain. It causes the cells that transmit information from the brain to the rest of the body to die, according to Loretta’s family on their Go Fund Me page.
The disease begins by affecting speech, tongue and throat operation and continues to spread downward throughout the rest of the body, eventually leading to full paralysis, while the mind remains unaffected, said the family.
Loretta’s husband, Glen Rollins has become her full-time caregiver and therefore can no longer work, according to the family.
The family has been corresponding with a stem cell research facility, which can perform a subcutaneous implantation of stem cells to help slow the progression of Loretta’s disease.
The procedure may allow Loretta to retain some mobility that she wouldn’t have otherwise, so that she will, at the very least, be able to communicate somewhat.
“As you can imagine, the emotional and financial toll has already been tremendous for us and unfortunately, we simply doesn’t have the money to pay for this procedure,” said the family. “The results of this procedure have shown multiple accounts of improvements in patients already, so we choose to proceed, not unrealistically, but optimistically.”
The Rollins family hopes to reach their goal of $15,000 so Loretta can get “some relief” and “quality of life,” according to the family.
“It’s not a cure, but it could at the very least buy her some quality time to spend with the family and friends that she loves so dearly. We’d like to make her final journey as positive and comfortable as we possibly can for the woman who’s dedicated her life to helping others” said the Rollins family. “Any amount is greatly appreciated.”
In nine days, as of Wednesday, July 29, about $7,000 has been raised by 62 people.
To donate to Loretta’s Go Fund Me page, [click here].
“(Loretta’s) feisty and definitely a fighter. She still finds a moment out of her day to smile,” said the family. “Thank you all. This means more than any of you will ever know.”
Wedding of Loretta and Glen Rollins, 1971
More About Loretta Rollins
Loretta was born on March 10, 1946, to Frank and Janice Nobile. She and her sister grew up in the Santa Clarita Valley in an unincorporated town of Los Angeles county called Saugus, California.
Back then, few had heard of Saugus unless you owned a horse and lived in the sticks.
Loretta had a fun childhood driving an old Ford pickup on dirt roads and riding horses.
Her dad nicknamed her “George” because he didn’t have sons and she learned to shoot and tag along with the Boy Scouts that her father mentored.
She graduated from William S. Hart High School in 1964 and went to Los Angeles Valley College.
Through this time, a couple of boys came and went that crushed on Loretta, but nothing too serious.
She worked at KHJ Radio and then Lockheed.
One night, Loretta filled in as a waitress to help a friend and and a young man, Glen Rollins, noticed her.
Glen was a nice kid, a couple of years her senior in high school but she really didn’t notice him all that much. Loretta and Glen left the bar that night separately and found themselves sitting at an intersection side by side with their windows rolled down.
Glen asks, “How’s a guy like me to get your number?” She kindly responds by yelling, “Try the phone book!” and peels out, leaving him at the intersection.
Glen is somewhat tenacious and doesn’t give up quite that easily, so he tracked her down.
Glen’s persistence eventually paid off. She married him October 30, 1971.
She wore a beautiful orange dress and proudly married the man who would hold her close and love her beyond what she even thought possible.
Together they had two children, Nathan and Natalie.
When Loretta was pregnant with Nathan, she and Glen decided that she would get her Real Estate License to maintain a career while raising a family.
Loretta turned out to be a fantastic Realtor.
Her compassion, empathy and genuine love for people translated into a relationship with her clients that resembled family more than business, referring to her clients as “her kids.”
Loretta’s husband Glen became a Real Estate Broker and they had part ownership in Omega Brokers and then opened Wild Wood Oaks Realty in Newhall.
Wild Wood Oaks became RR Gable and later, Realty Executives.
Glen and Loretta became one of the most successful Realtor teams in the Valley, protecting clients on every front of a home purchase or sale.
They mentored several Realtors who are the big names in Santa Clarita today, always passing on the best of what they know.
In the late 80s, Glen and Loretta chaired The Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita’s Charity Auctions, and together helped raise over $300,000.00 for underprivileged and at-risk youth.
They have graciously donated to many local charities throughout the years; there is even a hospital room over at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital with Nathan and Natalie’s name on it.
In January of 1994, the Northridge Earthquake rocked the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys; the damage was catastrophic for some.
Lives were lost, homes were uninhabitable and the real estate market stalled for most of 1994.
The Rollins family dug in to try and stay afloat financially, but it was too much.
Bankruptcy was the only option, all assets were liquidated, and the Rollins family lost everything. They moved in with Loretta’s parents in Newhall. Through all this darkness, their faith and love as a family brought them through it.
Glen and Loretta desperately wanted a fresh start, so they tried their hands with a Real Estate franchise office in West Los Angeles Beach Cities called Keller Williams, while still trying to maintain and help all their past clients with their real estate needs.
This was the darkest time in Southern California real estate history and unfortunately for the Rollins, things didn’t quite catch enough momentum to succeed.
In January 2010, Glen and Loretta had the opportunity to move to Las Vegas and with the help of some investors, they began a successful business purchasing and rehabbing foreclosures with a small team, which they would then place back onto the residential market.
It was a perfect fit for them, as they were able to use their skills as Realtors as well as do what they really loved doing; helping people who felt hopeless and giving folks a chance at a fresh start; folks that before were facing financial ruin.
Just when things were finally looking up, Loretta noticed something was off; she felt as though her tongue and teeth were out of alignment somehow. It was minor, but still, off. The symptoms kept getting a little worse each day; her speech began slurring and during meals she began having trouble swallowing without choking.
The real estate market had begun to slow down a bit and Loretta’s symptoms were beginning to affect her work. Glen and Loretta agreed it was time to go home, back to Santa Clarita and their children.
Loretta saw doctor after doctor, but none had any answers.
The medical bills piled up, but Glen and Loretta were determined to find out what was happening to her.
They a specialist in 2013, who after noticing Loretta’s tongue quiver, declared, “I’m sorry, but it’s neurological. You won’t see your 75th birthday.” Loretta was 66.
It was a complete shock, but sadly, also still not the definitive answer they were so desperately searching for.
As the symptoms continued to get worse, & the doctors finally ran out of tests, they finally agreed on a diagnosis of Bulbar ALS.