Why I Walk with Lori Luckman

23 Aug

Why I Walk Wednesday- lORI lUCKMAN

I am a volunteer and this year’s Peninsula Walk to End Alzheimer’s co-chair. My mother-in-law, Fran was a woman who loved life. She swam 23 laps a day, bowled and played golf.  She loved watching football and basketball. She was a phenomenal cook and an avid reader.

Now, 4 years into this disease, Fran communicates using fragmented sentences interjected with the wrong words. She can no longer read, she doesn’t know what day it is and she sees and believes things that are not there.  I miss who she was and the close relationship that we had. Every day that I see her, my heart breaks and the mourning starts all over again.

Fran has Lewy Body Dementia.  Dr. Lewy identified proteins in people’s brains suffering from memory loss and confusion.  Hence, the name Lewy Body.  Like Alzheimer’s, Lewy Body is another form of dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association works to help people with all types of dementia, not just Alzheimers.

Hopefully, one day there will be a way to detect early onset dementia.  Then, perhaps a treatment will be available.  And maybe one day, there will be a cure.  It’s too late for Fran, but not for the millions of people who will be diagnosed with some form of dementia in the years to come.  Don’t assume that this cannot happen to you. If you have a brain, you are at risk.

Please join at one of the walks and help us fight for an end to Alzheimer’s.

Lori Luckman
Peninsula Walk to End Alzheimer’s Co-Chair

Why I Walk with Julie Olson

16 Aug

 

Why I Walk Wednesday-  JULIE OLSON.jpg

Julie Olson’s Dad, Julius Daniel Benton, Jr.

 

I am proud to walk in support of the Alzheimer’s Association to honor my dad, Julius Daniel Benton, Jr.  My dad lost his fight with Frontal Lobar Degeneration (FTD) in 2008.  Although he didn’t have Alzheimer’s, his disease was just as devastating and the result was the same. He had no chance of survival because there is no cure.  We have also lost my Aunt Jack to Parkinson’s Dementia and my Aunt Ginny to Alzheimer’s Disease.  Dementia is devastating – no matter what form it takes.

Dad was the best father a girl could ever ask for.  The love he had for his family was admirable as he always put us first.  He loved us with all his heart and was always quick to tell us he loved us, give hugs, or hold hands.  His love for music was evident his entire life as he played trumpet at school, church, and professionally.  He passed on that love for music to us and I cherish that.  Dementia robbed Dad of a lot of things – his ability to walk, talk, and do things that people take for granted every day.  I learned so much from Dad in the time I had with him, even in the face of adversity with dementia.  Dementia took him from us at the young age of 68.

I walk to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association for research to find a cure.  Through your donations, we can help make a difference in the lives of people living with dementia, their families, and folks who may suffer from dementia in the years to come.

Although Dad is no longer with us, I fight to find a cure so that no one else will have to endure what Dad did.  I hope there will be a cure so no one else has to lose their loved ones to this horrible disease.  My husband and children never got to meet Dad but his legacy will live on through me and others who are inspired by his life and fight with dementia.  We can make a difference and there will be a cure!

Julie Olson
The Benton Bunch, Team Captain
Coastal Virginia Walk

Volunteer Spotlight: Mary Frances

8 Aug

VolunteerSpotlight - Mary Frances

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Mary Frances is a long time volunteer and advocate at the Southeastern Virginia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. She started with the chapter back in 1997, after her mother, Frances Wade Newsome, passed away as a result of Alzheimer’s disease. Before her mother died, Mary Frances had promised her mother she would help other people with dementia. Mary Frances connected with the chapter and started a support group at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin, VA. Mary Frances and The Rev. David Johnson, from Sedley Baptist Church, were trained by Chapter staff to each be a facilitator of a support group, for their area. Together they helped many families and caregivers find the support they needed. In 1998, she was appointed to our chapter’s Board of Directors. Then, in 1999, she became employed as the chapter’s full-time Educational Outreach Coordinator, working out of the Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Sadly, in December of 2000, Mary Frances was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s.  As a result, she had to step down from her full-time position in 2001. The diagnosis further fueled her passion to make a difference as a dedicated volunteer and advocate.  Mary Frances and her supportive husband, Jimmy, secured a building for the chapter in 2005.  She and Jimmy enlisted the help of community volunteers to clean up and rebuild the vacant structure to fit the needs of the Association.  Due to damage from severe flooding, the office was closed in 2010.  

Mary Frances continues to be an extremely committed volunteer. In fact, she and Jimmy have been publicly recognized by the chapter as Outstanding Volunteers. Currently, she co-facilitates a support group in Franklin which meets every 2nd Wednesday of the month, as well as assists with managing support group facilitators in the area. She and Jimmy are still good friends with Executive Director of the SEVA Chapter, Gino Colombara and his wife Grace.

When Mary Frances is not volunteering with the chapter, she and Jimmy also volunteer at the Episcopal Church in Franklin where they assist at the camp grounds over the summer and manage activities at the church. Mary Frances is also a self-proclaimed animal fanatic and cherishes her beloved dog Candy Campbell, a Dachshund-Pug mix.

We are so thankful to have Mary Frances as both a dedicated volunteer and advocate! If you are interested in volunteering with our chapter, you can learn more information on our website at http://www.alz.org/seva/in_my_community_104988.asp

Why I Walk with Janet Eubank

2 Aug

Why I Walk Wednesday- Janet Eubank

We are walking in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s to honor my mother, Jean Emmel who suffered from Alzheimer’s for 10 years. She always had a smile on her face even when she wasn’t sure just who I was or thought my children, who have grandchildren of their own, were still young at home. Mother passed away in 2015.

This is our team’s second year participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and we are so happy to join the other walkers and teams.  Alzheimer’s not only affects the life of the person with the disease, but also the lives of the family and friends who love them. Any donation is greatly appreciated and every dollar raised makes a difference.  God bless you all.

Janet Eubank
Co-Captain, Jean’s Winners
Coastal Virginia Walk

 

Why I Walk with Jacqueline Ferguson

26 Jul

Why I Walk Wednesday WITH Jacqueline Ferguson

My husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s back in 2010 and I cared for him until he passed at home in 2014.  I miss my husband of almost 60 years of marriage, my partner in life. Well, to honor him and his love of travel. My children decided to take our journey on the road to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and to find a cure. This year we are walking to find a cure in Virginia Beach and I want you to join us. I’m leading the way to Alzheimer’s first survivor by participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®.

Our future is at risk unless we can find a way to change the course of this disease.

Together, we can end Alzheimer’s disease. Please make a donation to advance the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Jacqueline Ferguson
Member of Roosevelt’s Roadies Walk Team
Coastal Virginia Walk

Why I Walk with Brad Fleenor

19 Jul

Why I Walk Wednesday- BRAD FLEENOR

My name is Brad Fleenor and I am the 2017 Coastal Virginia Walk to End Alzheimer’s Walk Chair and I Walk to End Alzheimer’s for my grandmother Mimi.

My Mimi was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2008 and from that moment on, my family has been deeply impacted by this disease.  One spring day, while I was living outside of Atlanta, I called my Mimi for our weekly chat, and she said how much she missed me and was coming to see me.  This completely caught me off guard. My Mimi, at the age of 74, driving through downtown Atlanta?  I thought this must be a joke. Much to my surprise, that weekend, Mimi called me as she was coming through Atlanta stating that she was almost to my house.  

Now, this must seem like normal to you, but it certainly is out of character for her. Mimi would never drive that far alone. That visit turned into a three-month visit and we had a great time during her extended time with me, from cooking dinner together, to going out and exploring Georgia.
Life moves by so quickly, and if we had only connected the dots back then, I believe we would have all chosen to get to spend three months with our vibrant grandmother.  I was the first grandchild, and clearly, I was the favorite, so I thought.  Now I know all her family was special to her. This was truly her last road trip by herself.

Later on, our family moved from the happy times, laughing and celebrating life, to my Mom and Dad faithfully taking care of her day in and day out.  Having Mimi live with them, assisting her with her daily life activities, was not a choice, it is what they did.  We did not have to sacrifice family time, our family was growing, with my sister expecting her first child and Mimi going on all our family trips and vacations, to Massanutten, Virginia Wineries, Charleston, Nags Head and Fort Lauderdale,  we sure did have fun and as my Mother always says, “we made memories” during these difficult times. As time went on, the care became too much for my parents to handle, eventually moving Mimi back home to her same town in Liberty, Kentucky, to be near her other children and grandchildren. With my Mom and Dad making many trips to Kentucky to visit Mimi, things would never be the same. After a while, Mimi did not know them and now lives in her own world each day.  

Brad Fleenor
Walk Chair
Coastal Virginia Walk

 

The Longest Day Event Spotlight: The Runway Authority’s GENESIS, A New Beginning

17 Jul

It was just an ordinary day at our Norfolk office in February when a first-time visitor stopped by with an idea for a fundraising event. This gentleman’s only connection to Alzheimer’s was that a friend and colleague had recently lost her mother to the disease. He wanted to do something that would not only help raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and funds to support our mission, but something that would also fulfill an idea he had been thinking about for some time.

The man with the idea is Kevin Higgins, a locally based professional photographer. His idea was to bring New York City-style fashion shows to the Hampton Roads area. So, Kevin partnered with fellow photographer Charles Hundley and model Ashley Hawkins to form The Runway Authority. Their very first fashion show, titled GENESIS A NEW BEGINNING, took place on June 4th at The Historic Post Office in Hampton. Proceeds from ticket sales benefited The Longest Day 2017 campaign.

On that night in June, the audience gazed in amazement as stunning models, wearing clothes created by local fashion designers, glided by to the sound of enchanting music. A bank of photographers waited to capture the glamour of each outfit as the models neared the end of the runway. This amazing evening came to a close when models and fashion designers walked the runway together to a joyful standing ovation.

The Runway Authority not only succeeded in  bringing a New York City-style fashion show to Hampton Roads, they helped educate the public about Alzheimer’s disease  while raising much needed funds for the care and support for those living with the challenges of Alzheimer’s.

To learn more about The Runway Authority visit www.therunwayauthority.com. Please visit www.alz.org/thelongestday to learn about ways in which you can participate in the 2018 campaign.