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Why I Walk with Stephen Opitz

20 Sep


Why I Walk Wednesday_StephenOpitz

Pictured above is Stephen Opitz’s Grandfather, Robert Painter.


I’m walking in honor and memory of my grandfather to help reclaim the future for millions. My grandfather was a brilliant man who unfortunately lost his battle with Alzheimer’s four years ago this July. By participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, I’m committed to raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research, care and support so we can find a cure and stop losing so many amazing people to this terrible disease.

Currently, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s and that number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050. Our future is at risk unless we can find a way to change the course of this disease.

I need your support to do my part! Please join me and other Princess Anne High School students, families, and friends and walk in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on the Va Beach Boardwalk on Saturday, September 23, 2017. If you are able, PLEASE make a donation to help the Alzheimer’s Association advance research into methods of treatment, prevention and, ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s.  For the millions already affected by the disease, the Association offers care, education, support and resources in communities nationwide.

Stephen Opitz
Team Captain, PAHS Brain Trust
Coastal Virginia Walk

Volunteer Spotlight: Paul F. Aravich, Ph.D.

19 Sep

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Paul F. Aravich, Ph.D. is a behavioral neuroscientist at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk and a great friend of the Southeastern Virginia Chapter. He is a professor of Pathology and Anatomy; of Geriatrics, and of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Aravich often lends his expertise to chapter events, eager to share his extensive knowledge of the brain. Most recently you may have heard Dr. Aravich at our Day for Caregivers conferences back in June where he provided a brain demonstration to attendees during breaks from the seminars. Dr. Aravich has so much compassion for those with brain injuries and disorders and has dedicated his career to finding answers and teaching others about the brain. He believes educating the public is vitally important so they can take a more active part in advocating for legislation to support neuroscience initiatives that affect public health.

His honors include one of the highest awards for medical education in the US and Canada; Virginia’s highest faculty award for research, teaching, and service; 5 Virginia Gubernatorial citations related to public education and guardianship; and election into the Gold Humanism Honor Society. He is also on a member of regional.state boards related to behavioral health, TBI, guardianship, and dementia. He headed the Virginia Brain Injury Council and its first position paper on the neurobehavioral complications of brain injury. Dr. Aravich has given Congressional presentations on the epidemic of fatal behavioral health disorders to a program sponsored by the Congressional Public Health Caucus, on art and the brain to both the House and the Senate, and on traumatic brain injury to a program sponsored by the Congressional Brain Injury Taskforce.

Dr. Aravich has numerous publications and presentations and is interested in the cognitive and emotional consequences of various behavioral health disorders; positive behavioral controls for challenging behaviors; caregiver stress; Wounded Warriors; successful aging; the arts and medicine; and health care policy.

We are so lucky to have Dr. Aravich as a great friend to the chapter and long-time volunteer! If you have not yet heard Dr. Aravich present, please check out his TEDxNASA presentation “The Universe Between Your Ears” here! 

If you are interested in volunteering with our chapter, you can learn more information on our website at

Why I Walk with Paula Amburgey

6 Sep


Why I Walk Wednesday- Paula

Paula with her grandmother, Nadia Hansin


I’m walking to help reclaim the future for millions. In February, I lost my grandmother, Nadia Hansin. By participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, I’m committed to raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research, care, and support.

Several years ago, my grandmother developed Alzheimer’s and she moved in with us. As a high school student, I took on a huge responsibility of making her comfortable during her most needed times. I helped during her hardest times where she needed assistance to eat and change. But the good times we spent together outweigh the bad times. She enjoyed getting flowers, eating sweets, and watching TV. My grandmother fought the illness whenever she could and had a strong backbone that consisted of her family and her caretakers.

This year I want to honor her memory. I hope you will join me by making a donation or joining a walk near you.

Paula Amburgey
Farmville Walk 

Why I Walk with Marcie McMillin

30 Aug


Why I Walk Wednesday- Marcie McMillin

Marcie McMillin’s parents on their wedding day.


I’m walking to help reclaim the future for millions. By participating in the 2017 Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s, I’m committed to raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer research, care, and support.

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

I lost my Mom Betty Ruth Pickler to this disease in 2006 after 18 years of suffering. My dad is 95 years old and misses her every day.

I am raising money so that I am the last generation that will ever have to witness a loved one be taken one memory at a time.

Marcie McMillin
Board Emeritus and Team Captain of Betsy’s Boopers
Coastal Virginia Walk

Why I Walk with Lori Luckman

23 Aug

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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


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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

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 Please visit to learn about ways in which you can participate in the 2018 campaign.