#StillMe

StillMe-Sandra

Following the release of Still Alice, a movie staring Julianne Moore as a Columbia linguistics professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, several courageous members of our Early Stage Group got together to kick off a new social media campaign, ‪#‎StillMe‬. The campaign aims to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease by putting a face on a disease that affects more than 5 million Americans.

StillMe-Wayne

 

 

Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s, a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over time. In its early stages, memory loss is mild. In the late-stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. The #StillMe project aims to emphasize the individuals behind a disease that slowly robs them of themselves.

 

It is the slow and sorrowful progression of Alzheimer’s disease in a loved one that inspired Brad Torchia, a Denver based professional photographer, to get involved with the project:

A few years ago my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  My family lives across the country from me, and on my trips home every six months I would notice her decline, as well as the devastating effect it was having on everyone around her.  I started photographing her as a way to make sense of the situation, and slow the process in my mind.  Over time, this has turned into a larger scale portrait project that I have been working on in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado. I provide portraits of those living with the disease to their families at no cost, and simultaneously create a personal body of work. With this series, my goal is to convey the personality, and subtle, but noticeable effects that begin to take shape within the first stages of diagnosis, as well as contribute to the growing conversation around this disease.

StillMe-Rick

 

Barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease, by 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple to as many as 16 million. Despite this trajectory, Alzheimer’s remains the most expensive condition in the United States, and one of the most underfunded disease. Hopefully, the #StillMe campaign can shed a light on the individuals behind these statistics, because where there is humanity there is hope.

 

Now it’s your turn! Take a photo of someone in your life fighting Alzheimer’s disease and post it on Facebook or Twitter (@ColoAlzAssoc) with the hashtag #StillMe ‪#‎ENDALZ‬

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“We Support You Not To Win Broncos Tickets, But Because What You Do Is Important”

Hindorff

Tom Hindorff‎ as he accepted a pair of AFC Divisional Playoff tickets to the Broncos vs Colts game.

 

 

“We support you not to win Broncos tickets, but because what you do is important,” said Tom Hindorff‎ as he accepted a pair of AFC Divisional Playoff tickets to the Broncos vs Colts game on Friday. Long time Alzheimer’s Association supporters and Broncos fans, Tom and his wife Jenny were quick to enter a ticket giveaway held by the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter.

 

 

 

Following Pat Bowlen’s Alzheimer’s announcement at the start of the NFL season, along with the subsequent impact of the Bronco’s community partnership on Alzheimer’s awareness throughout Colorado, the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter wanted to reward Broncos fans for their support of the Alzheimer’s cause. For four days last week, Broncos fans and Alzheimer’s Association supporters were encouraged to sign up for the Association’s monthly email newsletter, for a chance to win a pair of AFC Divisional Playoff tickets. Thanks to television coverage by 9News and social media coverage by the Denver Broncos, word of available Broncos tickets quickly circulated and the response was overwhelming. More than 8,450 people signed up for a chance to win tickets. On Tuesday, the day the giveaway was announced, alz.org/co attracted 7,720 visitors. On the same day in 2014, the website had 248 visitors. Delighted by the positive response to the giveaway by Broncos fans, a generous longtime Alzheimer’s Association supporter donated an additional four tickets! Bringing the total tickets available to eight.

Broncos Ticket Giveaway Winner

Alzheimer’s Association CEO Linda Mitchell with Cassandra Campbell, one of four ticket winners.

Tom and Jenny Hindorff show their support for the Alzheimer's cause at Sunday's Bronco game.

Tom and Jenny Hindorff show their support for the Alzheimer’s cause at Sunday’s Bronco game.

On Friday, the four lucky winners were announced. The winners could not have been more excited after receiving a personal call from the Broncos and the Alzheimer’s Association. Tom Hindorff remarked that winning the tickets was, “a dream come true for me and my wife. We even found child care and will wear orange and purple to thank the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Although many fans left Sports Authority Field feeling deflated on Sunday night following the Broncos’ loss to the Colts, for those who won tickets while supporting a great cause the loss was easier to stomach. “Even though the Broncos lost, we still had a lot of fun,”  said Edward Rose.

Edward Rose enjoying the Broncos game.

Edward Rose enjoying the Broncos playoff game.

Checkoff-Colorado-2015-Alzheimers-Association

Reaching Diverse Communities

Reaching diverse communities living with Alzheimer’s Disease is an exciting part of the work underway at the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Because Alzheimer’s disease affects African Americans and Hispanic communities at a rate almost twice higher the general population, reaching diverse communities is a key value of the Alzheimer’s Association. Providing Spanish speaking support through care consultations, support groups and education is one method for outreach to Latino families living with Alzheimer’s Disease. Diversity and Inclusion doesn’t stop there, take a peek at all the great work underway at the Colorado Alzheimer’s Association:

In February, Staff members David Hoppe and Marissa Volpe visited Aza Day Center to provide Education on the Basics Of Alzheimer’s Disease. Listening to how Iraqi communities care for elders in Iraq was especially interesting.

Diversity Outreach

Marissa Volpe engages with Iraqi women at the Aza Day Center.

SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) network and the National Alzheimer’s Association have announced their official partnership. Participating in a Senior Health fair with the Center/SAGE in early August works to increase awareness about Services and Programs for LGBT elders.

Diversity Outreach

Marissa Volpe with GLBT Senior Health Fair volunteers.

At Mairik Day Center in south Aurora, Nepalese, Burmese and Bhutanese Elders gather for social and educational purposes. The Alzheimer’s Association recently led an interactive session on The Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. One participant responded, “Oh, this is the disease we describe as when our parents become our children.”

Alzheimer's Diversity Outreach

Burmese and Bhutanese Elders gather for a presentation on Alzheimer’s.

Attendees at a local Senior “Pachanga” (party!) register for more information regarding Alzheimer’s disease. Spanish speaking services are available 24-7 through our Helpline. Besides Spanish, over 180 languages are offered on the helpline!
Senior Outreach

Attendees at a local Senior “Pachanga” register for more information regarding Alzheimer’s disease.

Diversity Volunteers Edgar and Erika enjoy their salsa dancing outreach at this year’s Diabetes Expo. Those living with heart disease and diabetes experience higher rates of Alzheimer’s disease.

Serving Diverse Communities

Diversity Volunteers Edgar and Erika enjoy their salsa dancing outreach at this year’s Diabetes Expo.

Diversity and Outreach is excited to announce a partnership with AINC (Audio Information Network of Colorado). The Alzheimer’s Association will be featured with its own station for those who seeking to receive information by radio or phone.

Diversity is imperative and integral to our mission at the Alzheimer’s Association. It is a promise we make to those we serve. Our team understands that valuing diversity and inclusiveness is critical to our mission of a world without Alzheimer’s. We seek to be inclusive of the millions of people currently affected by Alzheimer’s disease, their caregivers and the communities in which they live.

Marissa Volpe

Marissa Volpe

 

 

-Marissa Volpe, Multicultural Outreach Coordinator

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.