An unconventional Alzheimer’s champion

Serena Ake Calhoun_optSerena Calhoun doesn’t fit the stereotype of a passionate advocate for Alzheimer’s disease. First of all, she’s a Millennial. Alzheimer’s typically isn’t on the radar screen for most 20- or 30-somethings, unless they have had a personal experience with the disease – caring for a loved one affected by the malady.

A senior marketing manager for Charles Schwab in Lone Tree, Colorado, Serena also doesn’t have a family connection to the disease. Her passion is almost coincidental: the mother of her mentor in graduate school was living with Alzheimer’s. That led Serena to do research on the disease. The rest is history.“Alzheimer’s is not OK,” Serena said. “It’s not OK as a society that we let that happen to our old people.”

Recognizing that Charles Schwab has a relationship with countless Coloradans, many of whom may be at risk for dementia or may be caregivers for those with the disease, Serena has made it her mission to both train the 4,000 or so coworkers at her Lone Tree location on the implications of Alzheimer’s, and to engage them in fundraising to find a cure.

A trained Alzheimer’s Association volunteer and presenter, Serena led Schwab employees through four Alzheimer’s-related classes during June’s Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month observance. She’s also recruiting Colorado employees for the Charles Schwab team that will participate in the Sept. 15 Denver Walk to End Alzheimer’s at City Park. She’s hopeful that this will spark a national involvement by Schwab employees to engage in their local Walks.

“I want my workplace to reflect my personal passion,” Serena said. “And, as a younger generation, we need to talk about Alzheimer’s if we’re going to find a cure. I have close friends who’ve lost parents to the disease.” In addition to her role as an Alzheimer’s volunteer and advocate, Serena is a chair of the board of the Young Professionals Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado, where she is actively recruiting her peers to join the fight against dementia. The group’s recent annual Blondes vs. Brunettes flag football game raised more than $144,000 toward Alzheimer’s Association programs, services and the search for a cure.

“Serena is a real go-getter and her involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association is truly exemplary,” said Kate Dochelli, development coordinator for the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “She is full mission in every way possible – serving as the chair of the YPAAC board, leading the way with the Charles Schwab team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, a former RivALZ Blondes vs. Brunettes player… the list goes on!”

To join or support Serena’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s team, click here. To learn more about YPAAC, call the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association at 303-813-1669, ext. 267 or go to www.alz.org/co.

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