Column: ‘Bachelor’ contestant finds caregiver calling
Sarah Trott holds a Pacific Beach bar crawl to raise funds for caregivers and ALS support; organizes retreats and chat links for caregivers
Sarah Trott was on Matt James’ season of “The Bachelor” for only four episodes, but her reality TV appearance was memorable.
The Scripps Ranch High graduate fainted mid-rose ceremony which, instead of garnering sympathy among her fellow contestants, irritated them because “Bachelor Matt” spent time away from them comforting her.
Stress, anxiety and hostility built. But there was a more important reason that prompted Trott to leave the show of her own volition despite James’ entreaties to stay.
Her father, Tom Trott, had been diagnosed a few years earlier with ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Trott faced the dilemma that confronts many caregivers — the need to put their plans on hold to help take care of a loved one.
“At home, I had a lot bigger problems than bickering over a guy,” she says. She felt isolated because “Bachelor” contestants aren’t allowed to have their cellphones. “I realized how much I missed my family.”
“I have no regrets about leaving. My time with my family is more important,” Trott says. In fact, her father’s illness launched her into a new career of supporting and empowering caregivers.
She had quit her news job at ABC-affiliate KESQ-TV in Palm Springs to move back to San Diego in 2019 to help her mother, a high school Spanish teacher, with caregiving duties.
Trott adored her dad, who was her biggest cheerleader, but instead of him taking care of her, she suddenly was helping him do the things he could no longer do himself.
He died in October 2021, nine months after she left the “Bachelor” pad. Before leaving, however, she was able to use her voice on national TV to speak out about ALS and highlight her cause. It is something she does full time now.
In honor of National Family Caregiver Month, on the night before Thanksgiving she led a pub crawl in Pacific Beach. It was a chance for caregivers to unwind and get emotional support from other caregivers.
It also was supported by a GoFundMe campaign and by bar operators who agreed to give a percentage of drink sales to charity, including I AM ALS, the ALS Association of San Diego and Hope Loves Company.
Trott, who splits her time between Los Angeles and San Diego, sits on the board of Hope Loves Company, a New Jersey-based nonprofit that offers children of ALS patients emotional and educational support.
She also set up a private Facebook group, Sarah’s Caregiver Community, that provides encouragement and resources to those taking care of people with ALS and other terminal illnesses — including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
More than 1,000 people have joined and are participating in group chats and Zoom meet-ups. Trott is helping organize free respites for caregivers in need of a break — four-day retreats paid for by sponsors.
She is grateful to “The Bachelor” for launching her into the public eye and expanding her social influencer realm beyond fashion and lifestyle in a truly positive way — talking about ALS and caregiving.
“I got thousands of messages after the show from young people,” she says. “I was really comforted and empowered by other women who balance their lives with caregiving, like me. That was the impetus of putting together an online community and bringing women together.”
Ceri Weber, 31, learned about Trott’s caregiver Facebook group from a San Diego ALS organization after she moved here to pursue her doctorate at UC San Diego. Although there were chat groups for caregivers, she didn’t find any tailored to young adults like her.
Weber’s father was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive neuro-degenerative terminal illness, in 2015, and he passed away in 2020.
Noticing how active Weber was in the chats, Trott reached out to her, solicited her advice and invited Weber to help moderate.
“It grew into this wonderful group of people,” says Weber, who joined the bar crawl last month.
“I wish so desperately I had had this group when my dad was really ill, but I’m so glad I have it now,” she says. “There is nothing else like this.”
Trott also works as the director of digital and influencer marketing for Aidaly, a service that helps family home caregivers get paid for their work. It plugs them into available funds by scanning its database for insurance benefits, tax credits and money from state, local and federal programs. It also offers care coaching and training.
Maggie Norris, the CEO of Aidaly, says she bonded with Trott over their similar experiences.
“I lost both my dad and my stepdad to cancer in the early 2020s,” Norris says. “I was bathing, feeding and administering medication. It was a stressful and emotional time.” She began rolling out her business in Miami, added Phoenix and will launch in Chicago early next year.
A study released last year by the AARP concluded that 48 million individuals in the United States are unpaid caregivers — an adult family member or friend. Not only aren’t they compensated, but nearly eight in 10 of them shoulder out-of-pocket caregiving expenses that average $7,242 annually.
As for another stint on “The Bachelor,” Trott hasn’t shut the door on doing something else with the Bachelor Nation. She still is single and calls herself a hopeless romantic looking for the kind of love her parents shared.
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