Born and raised on a ranch in New Mexico, Laree Perez grew up north of the city of Roswell, New Mexico. She and her cousins were expected to work every day with early mornings and late nights working cattle and sheep and caring for the pigs, chickens and horses. "It was wonderful and fun. We never complained or asked questions. We were working kids," she says.
In 1939, Laree's father, Ramon Perez Jr., broke his leg while working on the ranch. He was only eight years old. Ramon's leg required further surgery that wasn't available in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Laree's grandparents, who only spoke Spanish, boarded the train for a two-day ride to Mayo Clinic with Ramon as their interpreter. Her family still tells the story of how Mayo saved her dad's leg.
"Ironically, history would show that about every 10 years — 1939, 1949, 1959 — someone in my family had a lifethreatening illness. And in their minds, the only thing to do was go to Mayo Clinic. So that's what they did," Laree says.
Following in her family's footsteps, in 1989 Laree sought out Mayo Clinic when she was sick. She eventually moved to Arizona in 2010, just to be closer to Mayo Clinic.
"I work hard, and I feel if there is anything I can do to make somebody else's life a little easier, a little better, a little happier, then I will," she says.
Laree quotes her fellow Baylor University alumnus, author Robert Fulghum, when thinking about her meeting with Kerri: "You may never have proof of your importance, but you are more important than you think. Every person passing through life unknowingly leaves something behind."
The Perez family trusted Mayo Clinic for generations of care. Mayo Clinic is thankful for their support in our mission to provide health and well-being to all.