Why I Walk To End Alzheimer’s – The Gali Family Story

My grandfather - Ricardo Gali

My grandfather – Ricardo Gali

 

We have chosen to join the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in honor for my grandfather Ricardo Gali who passed away from Alzheimer’s in December 2012 at the age of 97. My family has a unique background story which is why I feel my grandfather fought for so long and so hard.

 

My grandfather, grandmother were born and raised in Havana Cuba. When my mother was 2 years old they began their journey to America. My grandparents went through some very frightening events to get to America, including coming very close to being shot for sneaking milk to my mother and uncle (he was 1 at the time). From the minute my grandfather touched American soil he expressed how grateful he was to be here and how important family was. This was passed on to all of the grandchildren from a young age. I have very fond memories of my grandfather teaching us what it meant to be a part of a family that escaped Cuba unharmed. My grandfather always made sure we did everything as a family.

Growing up I thought it was normal to always have family gatherings with extended cousins, great aunts etc. As I got older I realized how unique we were and cherished it even more. My grandfather was always a very active person and never believed in hiring anyone to do anything, rather do it all himself. As time went on I saw the change in my grandfather and saw him getting more and more frustrated with things that seemed effortless not too long prior. As time went on we all started to see not only the affect on him but also my grandmother as she was the main care taker for him, but never once gave up. We all helped out where we could constantly visiting and staying late to make sure my grandmother had help and had someone to talk to when there were bad days.

My grandfather and Grandmother a few years prior to my grandfather passing away.

My grandfather and Grandmother a few years prior to my grandfather passing away.

3 years prior to my grandfather passing he began falling a lot and my grandmother could not help him back up, so all of the children and grandchildren moved our family’s to be closer so there was always someone minutes away in case of an emergency. Shortly after we all moved I saw the values that my grandfather constantly talked about come to life. My grandfather had fallen, but this time he had hurt himself pretty bad and we had to call the ambulance. Within minutes of us getting the call that he fell and needed a hospital we were all at my grandparent’s house to help out and keep my grandmother calm. As the ambulance took him away we all followed. The hospital had about 30 people sitting in the waiting room to hear about my grandfather. Towards the end things got harder but we never gave up and spent as much time as possible with him knowing time was coming to an end.

 

It will be 2 years in December since my grandfather has passed and our family has only bonded closer and stronger. We are all still hurt over his passing but know he is watching over us. We still gather for every holiday, birthday, and just because, because that is how he would of wanted it and that is how he liked our family, close together and spreading endless love between each other. This is why we will be participating as a family in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Denver City Park on September 20, 2014 to honor Ricardo Gali.

-Mallerie Lapp

Alzheimer’s Association International Conference

Ready to be inspired? Meet Anna, one of our youngest Alzheimer’s Advocates who recently attended the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen to present her Memory Box project:

Anna at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference.

Anna at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

I am now a senior in high school, but a formative event in my life happened when I was only eight years old. This was the year that my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. A once caring, brilliant botanist and gardener and more importantly the one of the central role models of my life, she was robbed of her ability to take care of her extensive gardens, of her ability to function in social settings, and ultimately of her ability to care for and even to recognize her family. I watched my grandfather struggle with the progression of the disease for several summers, and I spent several weeks each year living at their house in Illinois to help my grandfather around the house and to stay with my grandmother as a way to give him a break from his full-time job as her primary caretaker.

As I grew older and entered high school, I felt that I was not doing enough to support the cause for Alzheimer’s disease research and treatment. As a result, during my junior year in high school I created an educational interdisciplinary model for lower- and middle-school students to expose them to current Alzheimer’s research as well as to educate them regarding the disease and how to spread awareness. The project included community service work by the students (we chose to work with seventh graders) at a local senior living home, studying and presenting research on an Alzheimer’s-related topic, the creation of shadow boxes filled with memorabilia to honor a special elderly loved one, potentially one who has suffered from Alzheimer’s or dementia, and a culminating evening fundraising event to raise money for local Alzheimer’s research. Speakers at the event included Dr. Huntington Potter, a researcher at Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Jill Lorentz from the Colorado chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and Catherine Ager, from Sunrise Senior Living. We named the project the “Memory Box Project.”

The project went smoothly and was extremely successful both as a fundraiser and as an experiential learning project for the students. I submitted an abstract of the Memory Box Project to the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference website in the hopes that the judges would select my model for a presentation at the 2014 conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. I didn’t expect to be selected to attend the conference, but I was interested in applying. Though my work was primarily in the social field rather than in the scientific field, I received notification from the AAIC abstract judges that my abstract was selected for a poster presentation at the conference. I was elated to hear this news, and began to plan my trip to Copenhagen right away. Before I left for the conference, I had to create a professionally printed poster that was around three feet tall and six feet wide, which encompassed my abstract and the process surrounding the Memory Box project. In early July I flew to Copenhagen in anticipation of my poster presentation, which took place on Tuesday, July 15th.

Thousands of researchers from around the world share their latest findings at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference.

Thousands of researchers from around the world share their latest findings at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Copenhagen is a beautiful city, consisting of ancient buildings built on a system of canals that skirt the edges of the city. While I enjoyed sightseeing in Copenhagen, most of my time on the trip was devoted to attending the AAIC. I spent time attending lectures by some of the most notable researchers in the field of Alzheimer’s, and the conference was officially opened by one of the princesses of Denmark. Presenters and attendees of the conference were welcomed with an evening banquet and free rides at Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. On the day of my poster presentation, I arrived at the conference early to set up my gigantic poster. I was nervous about what people would think about my project, but as people started to trickle into the poster presentation area I became more confident. All of the people who approached my regarding my poster were curious, kind, and supportive. I made contacts with several other social activists in Australia, Germany, Denmark, Japan, and the US, all of whom were interested in either sponsoring my project as I work to reproduce it in other schools throughout Colorado, or, more excitingly, who were interested in recreating the project themselves in schools throughout the world. The AAIC was extremely worthwhile, exciting, and fun to attend each day that I spent in Denmark. I look forward to improving my Memory Box Project and to attending AAIC next year in Washington D.C. to make further contacts with people who have devoted their lives to eliminating Alzheimer’s disease.

The Longest Day 2014

On The Longest Day, June 21, 2014, teams around the world came together to honor the strength, passion and endurance of those facing Alzheimer’s with a day of activity. Worldwide, 2,713 participants  and 1,113 teams raised millions of dollars to advance the efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s largest voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

Colorado had 55 Longest Day teams, the most in the nation! Collectively, Coloradans raised over $62,000. What’s more, team members and communities came together to raise Alzheimer’s awareness from sunrise to sunset. Here are a few of their stories:

Josephine's Team -Team Ceja

Josephine’s Team -Team Ceja

 

Josephine’s Team -Team Ceja honored their mother with a motorcycle rally and poker tournament.  They raised over $1,500 through their Texas Hold ‘Em” tournament.

 

 

Team Climbing For A Cause

Team Climbing For A Cause

 

Team Climbing For A Cause summited three 14ers near Breckenridge,Colorado: Mt.Democrat, Mt.Lincoln, and Mt.Bross.

Team Boulder

 

 

 


Team Boulder partook in 16 hours of running, biking, hiking, lunching at the Farmers Market, and a wonderful Potluck and Sunset Ceremony

 

 

Team NuStepping to End Alzheimer’s

 

 

Team NuStepping to End Alzheimer’s encouraged residents to stay active throughout the day.

Team Supportive Friends

 

 

 

 

Team Supportive Friends walked, ran, and cycled around Lake Arbor during the day. At night, they gathered on the deck for an evening of live music.

 

 

Jan and Warren Spaulding

 

 

Jan and Warren Spaulding celebrated their 62nd Wedding Anniversary on The Longest Day. They hiked the trails with Sara’s Scramblers in Evergreen.

 

Griffin and Lily Reed

 

 

 

Griffin and Lily Reed, raised $191 by telling friends and family, “Our good friend Bill died of this terrible disease and we don’t want that to happen to anyone else.”

 

 

Team Zumba

 

Team Zumba danced from sunrise to sunset.

 

 

 

Ollie From The Top Of Mt.Bross

Dog Kayaking

Mowgli riding a kayak around Lake Arbor.

 

 

 

 

 

Even dogs got involved in the cause!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The energy on the Longest Day was truly contagious with 1,113 teams participating across the country, including 55 teams right here in Colorado. Thank you to all of the teams who were part of such a special event! Together, you are making difference on The Longest Day and every day!

Why I Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Adam’s Story

My mom, Nancy Leonard.

My mom, Nancy Leonard.

 

My mom, Nancy Leonard, died from Alzheimer’s disease on Valentine’s Day 2013. Her mother, Betty Stoffregen, is in a nursing home in Lubbock, Texas still struggling with this horrible disease. I am devoting my team’s cause to remember my mom and for the struggle that my grandmother goes through still today.

 

My mom was a school teacher in a small town in Eastern Colorado (Bethune School). She was such a wonderful person that always thought about others first and was truly dedicated to teaching her students. After her retirement in 2008 she moved to Dodge City, Kansas to take care of my grandmother with dementia. They then moved to Lubbock,Texas to be closer to family. To make a long story short, my mom, while taking care of her mother with dementia, began showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

She eventually moved in with me and my roommates in Denver in 2010. I was 28 years old. We did our best to take care of her through all of the ups and downs – through her going out for walks and getting lost and having the police bring her home – through her having hallucinations – through her ending up in a nursing home. We got to a point where we needed outside help. We hired a company to have a nurse come over every day while we were at work to take care of her. We eventually needed to move her to Brookshire House in late 2011. The staff and the facility were such a joy and wonder to work with they actually helped my mom get to the point where she could talk again. I was able to talk to her every day on the phone. However, the disease eventually progressed and she was moved into a secure section of the nursing home. She started to fall regularly, then she stopped eating, and the end result we all know…

My mom was 60 years old when she died. She had so much life to give. My mom was such an influential person in my life and having to go through this at such a young age on both our parts was a life changing event. I think that the Alzheimer’s Association is such a wonderful organization because people need to understand how this is going to affect their lives. This disease doesn’t care how old you are, it doesn’t care how it hurts the ones you love, it is relentless, it is ruthless, it is cruel. The only thing that you can do is be prepared and know what to expect. You have to be financially ready and of sound mind to even begin to handle something of this magnitude.

I miss my mom daily and only hope that we can come together as a human race so that nobody has to go through this again. That’s why I will be participating in this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Denver City Park on September 20, 2014.

 

Hyatt Transforms into an Art Gallery for Alzheimer’s Association

Board Chair Sarah Lorance and her husband Michael enjoy An Elegant Evening of Art benefiting the Alzheimer's Association of Colorado

Board Chair Sarah Lorance and her husband Michael enjoy An Elegant Evening of Art benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado

The annual Alzheimer’s Association Memories in the Making (MIM) Art Auction was held at the DTC Hyatt and raised more than $250,000 to support families living with Alzheimer’s as well as research to find better treatments and eventually a cure. This year’s theme, An Elegant Evening of Art, was well emphasized throughout the second floor lobby of the Hyatt with stunning framed watercolors created by those with Alzheimer’s disease and original works donated by local professional artists.

Many returning professionals were in attendance this year including Martin Lambuth, Margaretta Caesar, Cheryl St. John, Tammi Otis, Lisa Hut, Frances Gottlieb, Al Murphy, Jean Shom, Amy Winter, Marin Dobson, Shawn Shea, Anne Aguirre, Kay Landen, and Madeleine O’Connell. Duke Beardsley’s painting of cowboys on canvas and Roxanne Rossi’s gorgeous black and white laquer dress titled Afternoon Tea were two of the pairings that saw rapid fire bidding from the more than 550 guests during the live auction hosted by 9News anchor Kim Christiansen. Her son Tanner helped out the cause by walking the catwalk with artwork while mom shared poignant stories about the paintings and the artists who created them.

Rich and Julie Wham check out the Duke Beardsley pairing for the live auction which went to an anonymous bidder for a record $13,250

Rich and Julie Wham check out the Duke Beardsley pairing for the live auction which went to an anonymous bidder for a record $13,250

The highest bid ever for the Association was $13,250 for Beardsley’s piece paired with a watercolor of two cowboys, while Rossi’s dress and its pairing of a Red Strapless Dior Dress went to Stephen Koch and Donna Herlehey for $4100. Other high bids included: Gary and Donna Antonoff on a series of watercolors titled Roses paired with Love for Growth by artist Laurie Maves. Jim and Zodie Livingston whose successful bid earned them the watercolor titled Aspen paired with a beautiful oil painting by Margaretta Caesar.

It was an amazing evening celebrating and honoring the work of artists who paint in our Memories in the Making (MIM) program, which is offered at no cost across the state. We are so thankful to all of the sponsors and bidders in our silent and live auctions. We are also especially grateful to the families who donated the MIM watercolors as well as all the wonderful professional artists who donated an original work for pairing with an Alzheimer’s watercolor or for contributing a palette for our silent auction.

Linda Mitchell, Association CEO and Art Auction Steering Committee Chair Tom O'Donnell share a moment after hearing the total raised exceed expectations at more than $250,000.

Linda Mitchell, Association CEO and Art Auction Steering Committee Chair Tom O’Donnell share a moment after hearing the total raised exceed expectations at more than $250,000.

Other special guests attending the Denver auction this year included Sunday Mann, Susie Frey, Ted Shipman, Alex Speros, Dr. Gene Eby, Tim and Kathy VanMeter, Lisa and Ed Hut, Dick and Norma Auer, Courtney Sipperley, Leslie Liedtke, Sally Haas, Bonnie Perkins, Julie and Rich Wham, Mike Spriggs, William Brummett, Gary, Sandy and Scott Autrey, Barbara and Lee Mendel, Melinda Quiat, and Alzheimer’s Association Board members Tom O’Donnell, Tom Hurley and his wife Jeri, Adam Duerr and his wife Ali, Sid Okes and his guest Shari Gillespie, JJ Jordan and her husband Tim, Kristy Tochihara, Venetia Marshall, Chris Binkley and his wife Linda, Linda Peotter and her husband Jeff, Board Chair Sarah Lorance and her husband Michael, Association President and CEO Linda Mitchell and her husband Ken Neeper.

Linda MitchellLinda Mitchell,
Alzheimer’s Association
President and CEO
Click here to view photos from the event

Tackling Alzheimer’s Disease

My Mom. The reason I participate in Blondes vs. Brunettes.

My Mom. The reason I participate in Blondes vs. Brunettes.

My mom has always loved Christmas, everything about it; the decorations, the cookies, the songs, the Christmas themed sweaters (that I would roll my eyes at), and especially the family time and traditions. She really made the whole season so joyous for all of us with her child-like excitement. So it was heart-breaking when 6 years ago on December 26th, she turned to me and said ‘I can’t wait for Christmas this year.’ We had just celebrated yesterday, but it was clear she had already forgotten about it; she had forgotten about our time together as a family, about the gifts we had given her, and the traditional family dinner we all shared. She was not able to experience the joy that she typically had before Alzheimer’s. I could not manage to tell her that we already celebrated, so I turned away as tears came to my eyes and responded with, ‘I know. I can’t wait either. I love Christmas.’

I wanted her to be able to hold onto that hope and excitement even for just a minute. I was so sad for her and for our family and I’d like… no I need to see a world where conversations like this don’t happen.

Cari MackaySo that is why, this year, I am again participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Blondes vs. Brunettes, a nationwide women’s flag-football league created to advance the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. I am involved in honor of my mother who is slipping away from us and in support of my father who took on the extremely difficult and emotionally challenging job of caregiver for so many years. I am taking on this challenge with the hope that other families will not have to live with Alzheimer’s.

My team and I are training, fundraising, and preparing for game day, but win or lose, our true goal is a world without Alzheimer’s! This event gives me hope and I can’t wait for the game-day! Go BruCrew!

- Cari Mackay, YPAAC Board of Directors Chair

Team Brunettes 2013.

Team Brunettes 2013.

The Brunettes will take on the Blondes this Saturday, June 14th at 11 a.m.
The game is being played at University of Denver Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.
To purchase tickets click here.

Memories in the Making Art Goes Beyond the Paintbrush

The Alzheimer’s Association Memories in the Making® art program often enables individuals to reach outside of their dementia and paint a picture that reconnects them with a past memory. These documented memories become powerful tools that reassure family and caregivers that the essence of the individual is still there. Sometimes, long held memories emerge in the form of a painting. Such was the case for Ruth Bibbs, a Memories in the Making artist.

While at the InnovAge Chambers Center, with the encouragement of a volunteer art facilitator, Ruth was inspired to paint a picture reconnecting her to a long lost sibling.

William's Plan by Ruth Briggs, Memories in the Making Artist

William’s Plane by Ruth Briggs

When asked to describe her painting titled “William’s Plane” Ruth replied, “I was inspired to draw this. My brother flew in WWII. Although it might not have been what he flew, it inspired me. His name was William Booker and he was a Tuskegee Airman. I was very young when he was flying so I don’t remember details very well. I do know he enjoyed flying. My mother had a picture of him in a plane and she was very proud of him.”

Inspired by the story, staff members began to research Ruth’s brother in hopes of reconnecting them. The two had not been in contact for quite some time. Unfortunately, through internet research staff members discovered that William Booker passed away a few weeks after Ruth’s painting of the plane. However, the internet search for William Booker also revealed that Ruth’s painting was not the first time the Flight Engineer for the 477th Bomber Group had been immortalized through art. As it turns out, an artist by the name of Chris Hopkins created a charcoal drawing of William Booker for his Tuskegee Airman Project.

William Booker by Chris Hopkins

William Booker by Chris Hopkins

Upon learning of the connection, staff members at the InnovAge Chambers Center contacted Chris Hopkins and shared a photo of Ruth’s painting with him. Chris was thrilled when he learned of Ruth’s painting and the story behind it. He responded by telling Ruth that her painting had, “really made his day,” and he sent Ruth a large copy of the charcoal portrait he had created of William. She was overjoyed when she received the artwork, to her it was much more than a portrait.

It is stories like this that make the Alzheimer’s Association Memories in the Making Art Program so special. Often the beautiful landscapes or abstract watercolors come to mean so much more for the families of the Memories in the Making artists. They tell long forgotten stories, offer glimpses into a person’s past, and provide families with a treasured memory of a life well lived.

While this painting was featured in our 2013 art auction, there are many wonderful selections available in Memories in the Making Art Auctions being held in Colorado Springs, Denver, and Ft. Collins this May and June. If you are interested in attending this year’s event or sponsoring one of our Memories in the Making Art Auctions, please click here.

What It’s Like To Have Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD)

Hello, my name is David Fleming.

David Flemming FTD Dementia

The Flemming Family

Recently, I was diagnosed with Frontotemporal dementia (FTD). I had my twenty -four hour pity party and then it finally hit me. I am a retired firefighter and Emergency Technician. I have seen so many victims of accidents and there are so many people with health, financial and relationship problem who had far worse problems than me in life. I finally realized, why did I think I should not be immune to the problems of this world? What made me so special, that I should be exempt from these problems of life? I have the greatest family in the world. Four sisters, a brother, two sons, a granddaughter, in-laws, cousins, aunts and uncles, friends and a church family who love and support me always with unconditional love. I know I am the richest and luckiest man alive. I sat down and wrote to all my family and friends and thanked them for standing up with me and all their support and love.

I decided that day, that I was going to use all my God given talents to help others less fortunate than myself. I would strive to become a better man, brother, father, grandfather and friend. I would give my love to all these people, better than I have ever done before. I have always loved them, but I now love with more compassion and in a more passionate way.

I have always been a person with a positive attitude, but now I am more determined than ever to be more positive and a good example to everyone I meet. I am doing several things to keep myself as alert and useful as I possibly can be. I help my sisters, my church family and friends with construction, electrical, plumbing, and even helped one sister devise a filing system to aid her with her finances. I do some cooking, laundry, and keep a clean and neat home. I work crossword puzzles, read books and play games that exercise my mind. I walk a lot and work at doing things that keep me in good mental and physical shape. I love to dance and sing karaoke. I make my bed every day and make certain that my medicines are in my daily planner. I try to pay attention to my physical appearance. I dress and clean up pretty well. I brush my teeth, shower and shave every day. A positive attitude and prayers will keep us sharp and looking and acting young. Our hearts will take care of the rest.

For those who are taking care of us, please don’t forget to tell us what we are doing different. We may not know that we are digressing, but we need to know what aspects of our lives that we need to work on to keep us on top of our deficiencies. Also, if you are taking care of our mail and our bills, please remember that we still need to feel important and loved. So go ahead and send that junk mail to us! You have the checkbook and credit cards, so we won’t be buying all that junk that they ask us to buy. Another thing you can do is to give us cash when we go out to dine or to the movies. Just enough cash to pay for what we doing gives us pride to still be able to pay our own way, at least in our own minds.
I am still looking forward to a bright and exciting future. I will never give up on myself and what I can do to help others. I want to travel and see the world before I have to say I cannot do this anymore. We are all trying to get through this disease with as few problems as possible.

Sincerely, David

Why I Volunteer With The Alzheimer’s Association Of Colorado

Tokunbo Joseph Olowookere

Tokunbo Joseph Olowookere

The threat of Alzheimer’s is real. This is why I volunteer with and support The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado. No immediate members of my family have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but I have some extended family members that have/had the disease. My Pastor’s husband died with Alzheimer’s. I don’t remember the man, because he was ill with the disease when I met him as a child. From what my Pastor speaks about her husband, he was an exceptional man. He was respected by his church as a Deacon, and an excellent provider for his wife and nine children.

I have an Uncle who’s wife’s mom and dad have/had Alzheimer’s. Her mom is still alive, but her dad passed away with the disease. He served as mayor of his city, Altheimer, AR. I wasn’t familiar with former Mayor Fred Martin, but I did meet his wife. I remember during family reunions, my Aunt would have her mom re-fold t-shirts to keep her busy, while others enjoyed the family reunion festivities. I understand eventually, they had to put Mrs. Martin in a nursing home.

These three examples of people with great minds getting Alzheimer’s proves, as Alzheimer’s Association board member, and fellow member of The Association’s African American Advisory Committee, Phillip Heath states, “Alzheimer’s is an equal opportunity destroyer.” There is a form of dementia called “younger-onset Alzheimer’s,” that can occur in the 40-50 age group. This concerns me, because I’m getting older.

I appreciate that the Alzheimer’s Association has a multicultural outreach that caters to African Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities. I’ve volunteered on The Helpline, which is a great first contact for people that have questions about Alzheimer’s. Being a member of The African American Advisory Committee, has granted me great opportunities to meet and engage with important people of our time. People like Dr. Ben Carson, Neurosurgeon and Dr. Huntington Potter.

African American Alzheimer's Risk

Now the Alzheimer’s Association, through staff member, Rosalyn Reese and The African American Advisory Committee, have launched an enterprising plan called, “Purple Power Champions Initiative.” It’s about going to black churches, via their health ministries to bring awareness about Alzheimer’s. Since African Americans are more likely to get Alzheimer’s then other ethnic groups, it makes sense that African Americans, and people in general get educated about the disease [African Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's due to the correlation of the disease to high blood pressure and diabetes both of which have a higher incidence among blacks and Hispanics]. The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado also has many free classes and courses available to the public.

Not only has the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado made me more aware about the seriousness of this deadly disease called Alzheimer’s, the Association is fun! I enjoy the annual fundraisers, Walk To End Alzheimer’s and The Blonde vs. Brunette Flag Football Game. The staff and volunteers I’ve met at the Alzheimer’s Association are good people to know. So whether you are African American, or any other ethnic group or race, The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado is a good organization to utilize and support. I am proud to be associated with this organization.

Sincerely,

Tokunbo Joseph Olowookere

50 Marathons At Age 50 For Alzheimer’s

David KnappHi there! My name is David Knapp and in celebration of turning 50 this year I plan on running 50 marathons in memory of my mother Audrey Jean Knapp who died of Alzheimer’s in 2001. I hope to raise $50,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado and the 72,000 Coloradans living with the disease.

I know what many of you are thinking, “David, 50 marathons at age 50 is an absurd goal.

However, a favorite teacher once told me, “Always chase windmills. Even if they call you a crazy old man – keep chasing windmills. The day you stop chasing windmills is the day you die.” Taking that advice to heart, I firmly believing that the fatigue and injuries one endures during a “noble quest” (to quote Cervantes’ knight errant) are but a small price to pay for all the richness and rewards that the noble quest provides. Watching my Mom deteriorate as the disease progressed was undoubtedly the most emotionally painful experience of my life. But watching the physical, mental, and emotional toll it took on my father as he tried to care for her was a close second. So the challenge of running 50 marathons in one year will pale in comparison to what Dad went through as her caregiver.

David Knapp - Running Chicago Marathon

David Knapp – Running the Chicago Marathon

Just so you know, I’m no stranger to marathon challenges. In 2004, I ran 40 marathons during the calendar year to celebrate turning 40 years old. So running 50 to raise money for this incredible organization is a natural progression. I know it won’t be easy, but I want to complete next year’s quest to help others – the individuals who are dealing with this terrible disease, as well as their family members who are facing the difficult and heart-wrenching experience that my family went through with Mom.

Please help me reach my “50 Marathons for $50,000” goal by donating whatever you can. Keep in mind that many businesses and corporations have donation-matching policies in place – so if you could ask about that at your workplace, I’d greatly appreciate it. Also, I’m looking for corporate sponsors to help offset the tremendous costs involved in registering for and traveling to races, so please let me know if your organization would be willing to help with that aspect of the marathon quest.

Thank you in advance for your generosity. Together, we can help researchers find the critical medical breakthrough that one day will lead to a world without Alzheimer’s.

-David

You can follow David’s adventures before, during, and after the marathon quest at:

Fundraising page: act.alz.org/goto/DavidKnapp
Twitter: twitter.com/DrDavidKnapp
Facebook: facebook.com/ChasingWindmills50