Tag Archives: Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Why I Walk Wednesday with Wendy Houston

17 Aug

Why I Walk Wednesday_withWendyHoustonMy dad exemplified loving kindness and generosity. His love for our mom and four children taught us to value life by treating others with respect and dignity. He loved visiting the sick, hungry, and bereaved. He was gifted in many ways, especially woodworking, giving away most everything he made. My favorite gift was a desk he built just for me.


In his 80’s, dad became increasingly disoriented and had little sense of direction. His occasional forgetfulness greatly increased, he no longer enjoyed being around others, and he had difficulty forming simple words and sentences. However, even though dad was embarrassed to speak when words wouldn’t flow, he still said a blessing before every meal.


As the disease progressed, dad slept more. He became unable to feed himself or lift his head, and communication ceased. He no longer recalled our names and faces – including mom’s – yet she remained his focus. He clung to her, watching her every move with staring eyes. She remained his loyal love, hope and caregiver.


My sweetest memory on this journey occurred right before dad’s communication ceased. One day, we were listening to Amazing Grace and to our amazement, dad moved to the seat’s edge and started humming the song. What an amazing gift to our family in his last days!


Please join with me and walk so that future generations are alerted to the urgent need to find a cure for this disease.

Why I Walk Wednesday with Caryn Long

10 Aug

Why I Walk Wednesday_withCaryn Long

I walk for my father, Birch and for my sons, Forest and Randolph.

My dad; Birch, a Navy veteran, was a brilliant and hard-working man who worked his way from the ground floor of IBM through the ranks to a vibrant career as manager and auditor of the company. Even brighter than his professional career was his dedication to his family. His girls; my mother, sister, and myself, were his entire world: his motivation for his every action.

His father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s later in life and I will never forget hearing my Dad tell me over the phone through tears that he too had this disease. Our family has watched this vibrant, thoughtful and intelligent man being reduced to a shell of his former self.

I miss the conversations I had with him because he can no longer grasp the words to say, and the frustration in his eyes to be unable to do for us let alone for himself is heart-breaking. It is as if I am trying to hold large handfuls of sand in my hands, while those grains, the elements that made my Dad the amazing man he was, escape my grasp.

My sons have never known the man I grew up with and this alone is a tragedy. Their memories of their Papaw will be tainted with Alzheimer’s and it makes me angry. I walk in honor of my Dad as well as for my sons’ futures – one where this disease cannot impact their lives like it has their Papaw’s.

Please join me and register for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s!

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Why I Walk Wednesday with Carla E. Morin-Diehl

3 Aug

Why I Walk Wednesday_WITH CARLA MORIN-DIEHLAs I write this at 2:00 am I am overwhelmed with emotion. We have spent the entire day at doctor’s offices and a trip to the hospital because my father crushed his finger this morning in the car door when we got to daycare. So anxious to get in to see his new friends, he didn’t pay attention to what he was doing. He crushed the tip of his finger, lost his fingernail and had a dozen or so stitches. Bandaged up we left the doctor’s office to have him pull the bandage off in less than 10 minutes. Back for another bandage that didn’t even last an hour. So to the emergency room we went because it wouldn’t stop bleeding. Thankfully they put his finger in a splint so that he can’t remove the bandage.

Why am I writing this? Imagine a man that was the first to graduate from college in his family. Imagine a man that retired at 58 as a vice president of a major corporation. Imagine a man that was one of the smartest men you have ever met. There was nothing that he couldn’t do.

In August of 2008, my Daddy and I went to a Red Sox game in Baltimore, something we did for many years. We always stayed in the same hotel, ate at the same places, this trip wasn’t any different. But my Daddy was. He was confused, a bit disoriented, not knowing exactly where he was. I thought he must just be a bit tired. We enjoyed the game and came home the next day. I told my Mom about how he was and she wasn’t concerned, agreed with me that he must have just been tired.

In January of 2013, our worst nightmare came true. My Daddy was diagnosed with moderate Alzheimer’s disease. When seen by the neurologist and tested, he didn’t pass a test. He was losing his ability to understand even the simplest things. My family was devastated.

2 years ago, I signed up for the Williamsburg Walk to End Alzheimer’s and raised enough money to become a Grand Champion. The morning of the Walk I didn’t have any idea what to expect and honestly I was overcome with emotion. My team was small and together we raise over $3000.00. It was so moving and emotional to see for the first time that we were not alone. That there are so many families that are affected by this disease; I knew I had to do this again.

Last year, I walked in the Peninsula Walk to End Alzheimer’s and once again became a Grand Champion. Our team grew to over 20 people and we raised over $6000.00.

This year I was humbled to accept the Chair position for the Peninsula Walk, raising money for ALZ has become my passion. My Daddy fortunately still knows his family, is still very social, but he has lost all comprehension. He is delusional; he doesn’t remember what happened 2 minutes before. His brain has been robbed by this insidious disease, a disease that is the number 6 killer each year.

You never understand the magnitude of this disease until you are faced with it head on. The disease of abandonment, where people that you thought were your friends, slowly stop calling and eventually go away. The disease of the long goodbye, in essence you lose your loved one twice. My Daddy has been gone now for many years. This man looks and sounds like my Daddy, but my Daddy is gone. In his place is a man that is like a little boy, no filter and carefree.

I look forward to a world free from Alzheimer’s disease.

Thanks for reading,
Carla E. Morin-Diehl

Please join me and register for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s!

Why I Walk Wednesday with Sarah Smith

27 Jul
Why I Walk Wednesday_Smith

This picture taken at 2007 team fundraiser and is of my then 8 year old son, Jacob Smith

Why I Walk
For me, 2016 marks ten years of volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association and specifically, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  I have witnessed lots of changes in those ten years.  When I first volunteered as a team captain, my grandmother had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for close to ten years.  I got involved with the Walk as a way to fight the disease that was stealing my beloved grandmother. Alzheimer’s ultimately took my grandmother from us completely and sadly, two more family members have also been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

However, these same ten years have also brought many joys and successes. For example, I have witnessed my children learning the importance of volunteering and helping others in need.  I have felt the love and support of family and friends as we rally together against dementia, and I have seen the relief in the faces of caregivers when they learn they are not alone.

For me, the increased awareness of Alzheimer’s disease is one of the highlights of these past ten years.  Nationwide, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s event has expanded by leaps and bounds and I could not be more proud!  Last but not least, in my ten years as a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association, funding for research into the treatment or prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias has grown exponentially.

I Walk to End Alzheimer’s because I am hopeful for what the next ten years will bring!

Sarah Smith
Volunteer Chair, 2016 Western Tidewater Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Join Sarah at the Walk To End Alzheimer’s

Why I Walk Wednesday with Tiffany Elston

20 Jul

Why I Walk Wednesday_Elston

We walk in honor of my mom (Nana) who was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s three years ago at the age of 49. 

We walk in support of my dad (Papa) and other caregivers out there that give so much of their time to care for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

We walk in memory of all those who have lost their battle with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, including my Grandma Tink.

And we walk to show our commitment to the cause and help in raising funds for the much needed research, in hopes that one day there is a cure.

Alzheimer’s knows no bounds and everyone is at risk! The Walk helps you realize you are not alone and together we can make a difference.

Please join with me and register for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s!

Why I Walk Wednesday with John Broadwater

13 Jul

Why I Walk Wednesday_Broadwater

I walk in honor of my wife, Sharon, who was stricken with Younger Onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2007. Her mother and a mother’s brother died from this rare form of dementia that robs active, productive people of their memory and abilities as young as their forties— or even earlier. A very bright woman, Sharon was a biology professor at William and Mary when this terrible disease struck her. She was 62 when diagnosed, but by then she had already taken early retirement because she felt she was no longer able to perform at her previous level. She can no longer care for herself and is living at Clare Bridge, a secure dementia unit at Brookdale Senior Living, Williamsburg. I visit her every day and even though I no longer see a spark of recognition in her face, I believe she’s still in there, somewhere. My heart aches because she no longer recognizes her daughters or grandsons, and is missing out on sharing their lives. My heart aches because I miss her so much.

By participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s, I’m hoping to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer research, care and support. I walk to help reclaim the future for millions. I walk because I have come to know and care for many brave, devoted families who are dealing with a loved one’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. I walk because Alzheimer’s is a cruel, fatal disease for which there is neither a cure nor even an effective treatment, and funds for research are woefully scarce.

Please join with me and Walk to End Alzheimer’s!

Volunteer Hampton Roads honors ALZSEVA Volunteer

23 Mar

Conducted annually, the Hampton Roads VOLUNTEER Achievement Awards recognize the region’s most outstanding volunteers based on their length of service, initiative and impact on the community.  These men, women and youth have inspiring stories that encourage others to serve. This year our volunteer Robert Fanning will be among the honorees at the 41st annual event on Wednesday, April 13 at the Founders Inn & Spa.


Robert Fanning seen here in a t-shirt given to him by our staff for his 85th Birthday

Robert (Bob) Fanning, age 85, volunteers 15 hours a week at the Alzheimer’s Association Southeastern Virginia chapter, for a total of more than 4,000 hours since 2009. Bob is the most dedicated, conscientious volunteer any organization could ask for – he even comes into the office on snow days and holidays when the office is closed!

Bob has applied his problem-solving and analytical abilities to many tasks such as organizing the chapter library, making it easier for the public to access ; creating, editing, and printing a manual of local resources, which is distributed to more than 600 families annually throughout southeastern Virginia; and collecting constituent data and entering it in various databases and spreadsheets. An amateur photographer, Bob has ably recorded many chapter events and milestones.

But Bob is much more to our chapter than the sum of his technical skills. Bob’s wife Mary died of Alzheimer’s, which gives him the personal experience, compassion, and insight to provide wisdom to families dealing with the disease; he facilitates two monthly caregiver support groups and has told his story in person and on video to assist others navigating the same journey. Bob has taken an active part in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the past ten years, walking in memory of his wife and helping to raise funds to support research and programs.

Bob’s intelligence, kindness, and quick wit make him a valued part of our chapter family. He is a welcome part of chapter events and social occasions, and he is someone to whom staff members turn for support and counsel. Bob Fanning is a powerful role model for active, productive, engaged aging, and we are the richer for having him in our organization. We are so glad that he is being recognized and rewarded for his extraordinary dedication and service.

If you would like to join in the celebration at the 41st Annual Hampton Roads VOLUNTEER Achievement Awards – Purchase Tickets Here

Wednesday April 13, 2016 at The Founders Inn & Spa
5:30 p.m. Cocktail reception, cash bar • 6:30 p.m. Awards ceremony and dinner
Tickets $50.00