Volunteers boost Alzheimer’s Association in Colorado’s mountain towns

IMG_1370_opt“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.” That was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s approach to volunteering. Coloradans take that message to heart, and the Alzheimer’s Association volunteers in the Rocky Mountain communities are the best examples.
“It’s more than 250 miles from our regional office in Boulder to our office in Grand Junction,” said Amelia Schafer, executive director of the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “For us to provide services to families in the many mountain communities, we rely on our volunteers. And we are blessed to have some outstanding ones.”

Sandra (Sandy) Bainbridge of Frisco is one of those outstanding volunteers. A caregiver for her own mother during her nine-year journey with Alzheimer’s disease, Bainbridge serves as a volunteer in the Alzheimer’s Association’s speakers bureau to bring educational programs to towns throughout Summit County. She also supports the Association’s Boulder office (a mere 87-mile trip each way) in addition to her work on the Colorado Assisted Living Committee and the State Respite Coalition, not to mention working with Summit County Seniors to develop a volunteer respite companion program.

In her free time, Bainbridge is working with the Summit County Seniors board to mobilize the county’s 2,000 senior members to support the inaugural Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Eagle on Oct. 20. Scheduled to start at 10 a.m. at Brush Creek Park and Pavilion, 909 Capitol St., the newest Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Colorado’s 12th – has an ambitious $100,000 fundraising goal to support programs, services and research to find a cure for the only leading disease without a prevention, treatment or cure.

Summit County is the fastest growing retirement county in Colorado, and Bainbridge understands the need to expand awareness of services offered at no charge to families, like those provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Awareness through education is important,” she said. “We do have a support group for caregivers (for those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia), but there is not an (Alzheimer’s Association) office in the rural mountain towns, so we depend on volunteers to make things happen. More and more Baby Boomers are retiring here, and we see a need to educate them and provide services.”

Bainbridge is one of the 1,000+ volunteers around Colorado who make it possible to extend the reach of the Association’s nearly 50 staff members. These volunteers help provide programs and services to the 71,000 Coloradans living with dementia, as well as the nearly quarter of a million unpaid caregivers – family and friends.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization,” said Schafer. “In fact, it was volunteers in the Vail Valley, including Chuck Smallwood and Gary Wicklund, who were the driving force behind establishing our new Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Eagle. Without them, we could never aspire to deliver our programs and services to every family in need in Colorado. They are heroes on the front lines of our fight to end
Alzheimer’s disease.”

To register for the Oct. 20 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Eagle – or to make a donation – go to www.alz.org/walk.

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