14 Years After Our Diagnosis, I Still Walk…and Volunteer

By Deb Wells

A cool crispness penetrates the dimly lit sky as we drive to the Walk each year. “Want to grab a cup of coffee on the way?” “Sure, it’s a tradition, after all!”

I’m looking forward to my 14th Walk to End Alzheimer’s this year, the fourth year without John – the reason for my personal involvement in the Alzheimer’s Association. My late husband and I did our first Walk in 2002 – about two months after John’s diagnosis with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The news was devastating and grief quickly grabbed us for a few weeks. Our first few days after getting the news, on the recommendation of our doctor, we visited the Alzheimer’s Association. I purchased books, grabbed brochures, and talked to some helpful staff members who encouraged our participation in support groups and classes. So began our journey…

John Wells and Murph
John Wells with his canine companion, Murph

Since the Walk was coming right up, we planned to participate. I was quietly apprehensive… Would this be too much for us, in terms of the exposure to others affected by Alzheimer’s? Would it be depressing to see so much about Alzheimer’s in one place? But, the opportunity to raise funds to help support the efforts of the Association outweighed all of the niggling thoughts that would deter us.

My apprehensions were unjustified! The spirit, the enthusiasm, the colorful fun of groups walking was so upbeat! We had a great time – gathered a boatload of information and materials, connected with the few folks we knew from our first activities, and went home in a better mood than I had ever thought was possible.

It really did become such a nice tradition for us – great memories now that John is gone. Our family and friends to one extent or another are always also on hand. We’ve had strollers, runners, wheelchairs, walkers – funny to think of the methods we’ve used to get around the lake at City Park over the years. John’s final years were in a wheelchair, but he still looked forward to being there to see old friends we made over the time we participated in activities with the Association. He always had a quick wit, which didn’t leave him throughout the disease process. A particular support group facilitator always caught his eye; he was enchanted by her! When he saw her on one of our last Walks together, she was shocked that he knew who she was, and could manage a joke to make her laugh.

So now, here I am working at the Alzheimer’s Association, recruiting volunteers to help on the day of the Walk. In this role there is a bit of a sales pitch to make for our various roles for volunteers. For this one, looking back on everything, I think being involved in the Walk made us more optimistic about the way we could handle the disease, and the changes coming our way.

If you have a personal reason, like I do, to be involved with the Alzheimer’s Association, joining us as a volunteer or doing the Walk is a worthwhile way to spend half a day in the late summer – making a difference for so many wonderful folks. Call me, at 303-813-1669 for details on volunteering or Walking on Saturday, Sept. 17, at beautiful City Park!

 

Deb Wells is the Volunteer and Statistics Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado

One thought on “14 Years After Our Diagnosis, I Still Walk…and Volunteer

  1. Deb Wells I applaud what you are doing.I too will walk for my wife who has Alzheimer’s now 6 years.maybe we might see one another. Love you Clay Carr

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