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.


4 thoughts on “Why I Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Adam’s Story

  1. Adam (also my son’s name), I taught with your wonderful mother at Louisville High School in Nebraska starting in 1974. We had both just graduated from UNL and were surprised to recognize each other and delighted to discover that we would be teaching together our rookie year. I taught French and 9th- and 10th-grade English. Nancy taught all of the rest of the English classes. We shared responsibility for the yearly Jr.-Sr. class play and that was always an adventure. I so enjoyed knowing Nancy and have wondered about her life after we both left Louisville. I am headed down there from Omaha tomorrow night to their little music venue where my son will play with the bluegrass band he belongs to. I think it’s the same footprint of the restaurant where Nancy and I would have dinner together when we had to stay late for play practice or whatever school event we were called on to help with into the evening. I don’t get to Louisville very much, usually am en route to somewhere else, and my thoughts went to her just now as I was thinking of tomorrow night and seeing the town again and how coincidental it was that Adam was going to be playing there. I started searching for Nancy online. Her obituary was not what I wanted to find, of course.
    I am so sorry that you have lost your mom and very sorry that she passed so young and from such an unforgiving disease. Thank you for sharing your story. You couldn’t have been a more loving son, as evidenced by the support you gave to your mom throughout her illness. God blessed me with my time with Nancy. It was full of fun and laughter.
    Mary Lou Sherrerd

    • Thank you so much for the kind words and the story/information about my mom. Will you be coming to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Colorado would love to meet you and hear old stories about you two?

      • I can’t make it to the Walk but wish you all the best, Adam. Long live Nancy’s memory.

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