by LYDIA COBB | photo by Alicia Jeanne Photography

Honoring Sawyer’s Legacy

The Sherwoods moved here from Boulder, CO in 2000, where Bill began working in the brewing industry 26 years ago. Janis and Bill met working in Boulder’s first microbrewery, Walnut Brewery. Bill is a specialist in brewery engineering and expansion, and is now at Ballast Point Brewing Co. Janis was in restaurant management before their children, Amanda and Sawyer, were born. Their daughter/stepdaughter, Jennifer, lives in Erie, CO. Janis later worked for a travel agency, and obtained her real estate license here. “I believe all of these experiences contributed to my ability to start and manage my nonprofit foundation, Fight ALD,” revealed Janis Sherwood.


The family has known both triumph and tragedy. When Amanda was 10 weeks old, she underwent skull surgery for craniosynostosis. At 23, she’s now working for Stone Brewing Co. Sawyer was born a year later. Janis shared, “He was a lover of anything with a ball or water, or both. He had wanted to be a professional baseball player when he grew up. He played in Vista Little League for three years while his dad and sister helped coach.” Memorable family trips included snorkeling in Mexico, Maui, and camping in the west. Eight-year old Sawyer passed away from ALD in 2003.

Parents: Bill and Janis Sherwood
Children: Amanda Sherwood (23); Jennifer Sherwood (35)
Community: Vista
Favorite Spots in 92081: Vista Village Pub, Uncle Tony’s Italian Cuisine, Moonlight Amphitheatre, Brengle Terrace Park, the former El Callejon, and heading west to the beach

This medical acronym, ALD, was unfamiliar to the Sherwoods before their son experienced complete adrenal failure. They pursued bone marrow transplant, but he lived only six months after diagnosis. ALD is adrenoleukodystrophy, an X-chromosome disease in boys that affects adrenal glands and the myelin sheath in the brain and/or spinal column. “Newborn screening is the best weapon we have to save boys from this deadly disease,” stated Janis. It’s often misdiagnosed as other treatable conditions. There’s an adult onset, called AMN, which affects both genders.

Janice hit the road for Fight ALD’s Awareness Across America campaign. In five years, she has visited more than 3,200 hospitals and clinics to distribute information about newborn screening for ALD. “Now I can say I have been to all but one of the 50 states,” added Janis – Alaska remains.


Back at home, the Sherwoods cook and entertain. Janis was recently elected to the Myelin Project’s board. Her speaking engagements included a conference in London this spring. Upcoming fundraisers, Taste of Vista (June 15) and Stone Brewing’s Anniversary Beer Festival (August 19-20), will help raise funds for Fight ALD. In the Sherwood family, Sawyer’s legacy lives on. He will always be in their hearts, and is the inspiration of Fight ALD.

Name: Fight ALD
Mission: Fighting illness through education by providing information about ALD’s symptoms, treatments, and diagnostic test to medical professionals and our community.