SAN DIEGO – Lela Vaeao has a passion for helping others, specifically those who are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.
As a supervisor at West PACE, a facility for senior citizens, she works hard to combat the disease with exercise. Hoping to extend patients’ lives.
“The handful that I do know that do suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia, it helps them tremendously,” says Vaeao.
Vaeao has witnessed the effects of the disease firsthand. Her great-grandmother, who primarily raised her, suffered from the disease for years.
“To see her from like growing and her like declining over the years, it was hard for us,” says Vaeao.
The woman decided then to make it her mission to ensure that others in her community don’t have to suffer.
“Some come once a week and we’re the only people that they see one day out of the week,” Vaeao said of some of the residents at West PACE.
This isn’t her only job, however. The San Diego resident is also a professional football player in the Women’s National Football Conference. Vaeao plays for the San Diego Rebellion, suiting up on both sides of the ball as an offensive guard and defensive tackle.
“I love the contact, I always joke around and tell people I get to hit people legally, and not get in trouble,” says Vaeao.
Vaeao says she uses her experience with her grandmother’s diagnosis and her football skills to fight against Alzhemier’s daily.
You can hear Vaeao’s full story in the player at the top of this page.