Tray’s Time Of Need

The grandson of two of our members (Lion Carl & Linda Cromwell) is in need of our help. So we are asking for your assistance as well. We know how thoughtful and generous you can be! This page has been established as a way for all of us to provide financial assistance for Tray’s needs. Unlike with many popular platforms, the Apex Lions Charitable Fund will not take any fees from donations made using the link below.

Apex Lions Charitable Fund is a 501(c)3 charitable organization and can provide a tax-deductible receipt for all donations made.

QR Code to the Donation Link for Tray Cromwell

Donations may also be mailed to Apex Lions Club, P.O. Box 633, Apex, NC 27502

Tray with his mom

The information below is Tray’s story as told by his parents.

We learned early as parents that we couldn’t say to Tray “don’t do that or you will have to…” because he would accept the “deal” in pursuit of his next adventure.  

Apex was the setting of many of Tray’s adventures from age 3 until leaving for college at Appalachian State University.  Starting with endless rides on the tire swing at “Castle Park” as a toddler, Tray’s matured to playing football and running track at Apex Middle.  At Apex High School, Tray developed a passion for music in Todd Miller’s guitar classes and performed in countless concerts.  Living out a real-life “after school special”, Tray and a group of determined teens lobbied before the Apex Town Council  and other civic leaders about the need for a community skate park.

Outside of these extra-curriculars, Tray developed a love for traveling, rock climbing, and exploring off of the beaten path.  Tray’s travels have went through South America, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Russia and Finland.

At Appalachian State, Tray earned a degree in Fermentation Sciences and became a guru with biological and chemical lab equipment (and may have learned a little bit about fermented liquids).

After graduating, Tray became a laboratory instrumentation specialist for a local Triangle pharmaceutical company.  Tray became the “go-to” team member for problem solving, repairs and project planning.  The same hands that played music on a collection of guitars were now repairing and maintaining million dollar lab equipment.

In the Spring of 2023, Tray moved to San Diego with a friend.  On the cross country drive, Tray’s shoulder and arm started to hurt, but dismissed it as an irritation from packing and driving.  Later, while building furniture, Tray discovered that using a screwdriver (a normal every day occurrence at work) was nearly impossible.  With some cajoling, Tray finally decided to visit a doctor.

At first, it was thought to be a pinched nerve or maybe some muscle damage.  Following a series of tests, Tray was referred to a neurologist.  After a nerve stimulation test and MRI’s, Tray called us.  “I’ve won a lottery…unfortunately one that no one wants to win.”  The neurologist suspected ALS and referred Tray to the University of California-San Diego ALS team.  

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees were two of the most famous athletes in the world.  Gehrig was the hometown hero that set the record for most career grand slams and helped the Yankees win six World Championships. A major league baseball Hall of Famer, Gehrig set a nearly unbreakable record by playing in 2,130 consecutive games.  The streak ended due to symptoms from ALS and Gehrig retired at 36.  He died two years later. Because of Gehrig’s notoriety, ALS became known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”. 

About 5.2 people out of 100,000 in the U.S. have ALS.  Out of those with ALS, less than 10% are under the age of 35.  There was less than a 0.0005% chance of Tray having ALS, but the clinicians in California confirmed it in August.  

By the time of that appointment, Tray had difficulty lifting more than five pounds, or walking down a flight of stairs.  Cutting a steak, or opening a can of “fermented beverage” was a major chore.  Tray could rarely sleep more than a few hours at a time due to muscle spasms.  Waking up each morning was an exploration of what body parts might work or how long would it take for fingers to unclench.
ALS is the breakdown of motor neurons that control voluntary muscles.  How it impacts each individual is unique.  Some may lose vision.  For others it may initially impair the ability to walk or speak.  Unfortunately, at this time, the outcome for all is the same.  There is no cure.  That finality won’t deter Tray from living life to its fullest. There is nothing quiet or passive about Tray.  There isn’t time to be sad, angry or feel sorry for one’s self.  

That same individual that loved to run, explore, skateboard, travel, play and work with his hands now has a body that is refusing to cooperate.  However, the attitude, spirit and determination is still 100% Tray.  Tray continues to identify and plan new adventures for his circle of friends and family.  

As parents, we are doing everything we can emotionally and financially to support Tray through these adventures and challenges.  Fortunately, accessibility and mobility has been developed to better the day-to-day living for Tray.  The support of Apex, the Apex Lions, family and friends will help us provide the accessibility and mobility so that Tray continues living a full life.  

Thank you for your positive thoughts and support,
Tisha and Kevin Cromwell

Tray with a friend
Tray in the wind
Tray at the aquarium