October Volunteer Spotlight: Tim Pandajis

10 Oct

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Congratulations to our October Volunteer of the Month, Tim Pandajis. Tim Pandajis is the Daybreak meteorologist at 13News Now, the ABC affiliate in Norfolk, VA and a friend to the Alzheimer’s Association for many years now. Most recently, Tim was the emcee at the Coastal Virginia Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Tim has a personal connection to Alzheimer’s as so many of our volunteers do; his grandmother, Christine Anastasion suffered from the disease that led to her passing in 2010. He watched as precious memories were stolen from her one by one and her family became strangers. He shared that it wasn’t just his grandmother who suffered, it was the entire family. The feeling of helplessness set in early on as they watched the disease envelop all their lives.

Tim is from Connecticut. He is one of the most passionate meteorologists in the field; you can definitely tell watching him that he loves what he does. He holds the distinguished Certified Broadcast Meteorologist seal from the American Meteorological Society and earned his B.S. degree in Meteorology from Western Connecticut State University. Picking up and leaving town after graduation to chase his dream of being a television meteorologist took him to Hagerstown, Maryland where he landed his first position. From there he moved on to Richmond, VA where he met his amazing wife, Martha. They were married in May of 2016 before moving to Chesapeake where they currently live. Martha and her family also share the connection to Alzheimer’s disease; Martha’s grandfather suffered from it when she was a child.

Tim and Martha are huge animal lovers and have 3 dogs, one of which, Bentley the golden retriever, you may have seen joining Tim at the TV station some mornings. Together, Tim and his wife love to volunteer and help in the community they now call home. Working with the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Virginia, they hope to continue increasing awareness so one day soon we will have our first of many survivors.

Click here to view Tim’s Why I Walk story!

Why I Walk with Stephen Opitz

20 Sep

 

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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 http://www.alz.org/seva/in_my_community_104988.asp

Why I Walk with Paula Amburgey

6 Sep

 

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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

 

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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