Linda Newkirk, the executive director at the Alzheimer’s Association Mid-Missouri Chapter, joined me on KDRO, a local radio station, for a program called Open Mike. We talked about Alzheimer’s disease and our local Memory Walk.
I don’t know how many people are awake at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday to listen, but it is a popular program. It gave us a golden opportunity to talk about the September 20 Sedalia Memory Walk and to let people know about the Chapter’s services.
I call myself the Alzheimer’s Association Poster Child. I’ve benefited from my acquaintance with the great staff at the Mid-Missouri Chapter since my initial contact when Jim first developed symptoms. The Alzheimer’s Association symbol used to be two people leaning into the “H” of the word Alzheimer’s. The slogan was “Someone to stand by you.” The logo has now changed to a stylistic symbol of a brain and a beaker, which represents the Alzheimer’s Association dual mission to support people living with the disease (and their caregivers) and research to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The symbol has changed, like so many things do, but the heart beat of the organization is the same.
What qualifies me to be a poster child? My first contact with the Mid-Missouri Chapter was through a call to the 24 hour/7 day a week HELP line and, yes, I was connected automatically to my own chapter. I read every word of the literature they sent me and the Chapter newsletter. The only financial help I received for respite care was from the Alzheimer’s Association. They were the only ones who didn’t say Jim was too young to qualify. I registered Jim with Safe Return when he began to wander off. I attended educational programs that helped me develop caregiver strategies and learn more about dementia. Support Group was invaluable to me, and I can’t imagine why everyone doesn’t gather strength from others who know exactly what they are going through. I became an advocate and talked to my legislators on Memory Day and at the Public Policy Forum in Washington DC. I learned even more about the dedication of everyone involved at the Mid-Missouri Chapter during my six years as a Board Member. I developed friendships with staff, board members, other caregivers, and amazing people living with Alzheimer’s.
Jim and I participated in the 1998 Memory Walk with five other people and one dog. I followed that up with five years of being the Coordinator of the Sedalia Memory Walk. Our walk grew to embrace the entire community. As fulfilling as that experience was, I turned it over to Shelley who did a terrific job for the next four years. This year we have a new inexperienced coordinator and she is struggling. So, when they asked me to go on Open Mike, I was happy to talk about our Memory Walk. It was my baby, and I want it to continue to grow strong and healthy.
On the radio, Linda Newkirk and I talked about how Alzheimer’s affects entire families and how Memory Walk allows individuals to make a difference. Saturday, September 20, Sedalia will be on the MOVE to end Alzheimer’s.
Each September, Jim’s Team honors his memory at the Sedalia Memory Walk. This is our time to give back to the organization with “the compassion to care, the leadership to conquer.”
The Sedalia Memory Walk is September 20, at the Highway Gardens on the Missouri State Fairgrounds. Registration begins at 8:30 and the one-mile stroll begins at 10:00. You can register at www.alz.org/Mid-Missouri or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you know when and where the Memory Walk closest to you takes place? You can go to www.alz.org, to search by state for your local Chapter’s Memory Walk schedule. Lace up your walking shoes and support the 5.2 million Americans with Alzheimer’s.