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Why I Walk with Melissa Bailey 

25 Oct

Why I Walk Wednesday- Melissa Bailey

My grandmother Jeannette was from the mountains of Kentucky. She was raised to create a life for herself, taught sustainability, and ultimately lived a humble existence surrounded by her 9 children. The woman was hard. She was not the grandmother you think of as soft, sweet and lovely. She was strong and disciplined. She was proud and unwavering. When she was first showing signs of dementia, we honestly just thought she was growing more reclusive and impatient. She had been somewhat that way her entire life. But then it got worse and ultimately she lost all ability to complete any activities of daily living. We had to feed her, help her in all aspects of life. It was horrifying because she would never have allowed it. I still don’t know if she ever realized what was happening because she progressed so quickly, but if she did, it would have killed her. And that’s why I walk. To help preserve the dignity of hardworking proud people like my grandmother and educate families about the disease so they can give their loved ones the best existence possible.

Melissa Bailey
Brookdale Williamsburg Champions
Williamsburg Walk to End Alzheimer’s

 

Why I Walk With Diana Lumley

18 Oct

Why I Walk Wednesday- Diana Lumley

My first connection with Alzheimer’s was with my maternal grandmother.  My grandmother passed away in 1996 at the age of 82 after having the disease for 7 years.  I was working in Northern Virginia at the time and only made it to the Shore 3-4 times a year, but I became very familiar with the disease.  The repeated conversations over and over and over again. Grandma not knowing who anyone was or where she was living.  Her primary caregivers were my grandfather, his sister, and my mother.  Due to my Grandmothers illness, my mother and I had many conversations about what we would want to be done for us should we also be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  My mother always told me that she did not want me to have to care for her 24 hours a day should she become like her mother.

My mom, Barbara, made a modest living but she saved, invested wisely and planned for a future with the possibility of Alzheimer’s.  Barbara purchased long-term health care coverage for her lifetime and the inflation waiver offered on the policy.  Mom had a medical/ financial power of attorney, living will and her assets put into a trust.  Mom made sure I had a key to her safety deposit box and knew where all of her important papers were.  Even with the experience with my Grandmother, all the talks with mom, all the preparations that my mother made, it was still overwhelming when it happened.  Our whole lives changed on Wednesday, October 30, 2013.

In the spring of 2013, mom had been diagnosed with a form of dementia called Picks.  Mom had been declining. She had small traffic accidents, so we got her to stop driving. She could not figure out which burner to turn off on the stove or how to put on pantyhose.  The week prior to October 30, mom became almost loopy, losing her balance seeming confused and on October 30 her partner could barely get her out of bed and mom could not figure out how to dress.  Mom’s partner, Wayne, called the doctor and they said to take her to the emergency room.  From that day on mother never walked on her own again.  Mom was admitted to the hospital and stayed there a week.  Mom had a severe UTI, urinary tract infection.  Between the UTI and her dementia, she could no longer walk, write her own name,  have a conversation or tell you her birthday.  I thought the disease would progress slowly like it had been and we would have time to adjust and make decisions, but overnight my world, my mother’s world all changed.

Mom was in the hospital a week and the doctor told me she could not go home. She would need to go to rehab and have around the clock care.  Thankfully I have wonderful friends and family that came to my aid and helped me find the Hermitage. Mom moved into the skilled care side on November 2, 2013, after being in the hospital for a week.  I thought she would be able to move to assisted living, but that was not to be. I was away from my job for two weeks, one week with mom in the hospital and one week making sure she was settled at the Hermitage.  I went back home to Ashburn, VA, did my one hour and fifteen-minute commute each way to Alexandria, worked my 12 hour day, I work retail, and all I kept thinking about was my mom.  I went home that night and thought, I can’t do this,  I need to be with my mother.  I went to work the next day and resigned.  I came to the Shore every week and in the spring I put my house on the market.  I sold the house in June and moved to Parksley in July and that was three years ago.

I visit mom every day.  I help feed her, brush her teeth, comb her hair, wash her face, put on her lipstick, keep her nails painted, and entertain her.  Since 2013 mom has lost almost all of her language skills (she was voted most talkative in her senior class in high school), no longer feeds herself, and can not do anything for herself.  The one thing that mom can still do is laugh and smile.  My mother always said, “when I get up in the morning, I put my feet on the floor and I choose to be cheerful”.  I am very blessed that while mom has lost so much of herself, she is still cheerful. I walk in honor of my mom and in the hopes that one day we may have a first survivor of Alzheimer’s disease.

Diana Lumley
Hermitage Hummingbirds 
Eastern Shore Walk to End Alzheimer’s

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

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

 

Why I Walk Wednesday with Brettani Cropper

5 Jul

Why I Walk Wednesday With Brettani Cropper.png

Alzheimer’s took my paternal grandmother’s life in February of 2007. Now it is trying to claim my father’s. He was diagnosed with early onset in October of 2009. It is one of the worst diseases to watch a loved one go through. Besides the memory loss and not being able to perform daily tasks, the hardest thing for me to deal with is the personality change. My dad was very outgoing and loved to make people laugh (I’m sure that’s where I get it from), but since being diagnosed I have watched him go through many changes. You never realize the things you take for granted until they are taken away from you. What I wouldn’t give to be able to have a normal conversation with my dad again. Even though he is still here physically, I feel as though I’ve lost him. Having to experience all of this with not just one loved one but two, I hope to aid in finding the cure so that millions of families will not have to endure this horrific disease.

Williamsburg Walk
Brettani Cropper, Team Captain
Memory Savers