An only child, Sylvia Waller would frequently call her father for advice. Then, about three years ago, she realized their conversations were becoming increasingly disjointed.
“We weren’t connecting anymore,” said Sylvia. As time passed, he could no longer answer her questions and even routine conversations became more difficult.
Sylvia’s father had dealt with a variety of health issues since his wife – his childhood sweetheart – passed away 12 years earlier. Kidney disease and heart failure were among the challenges, but there also was a family history of Alzheimer’s disease.
A CAT scan confirmed Sylvia’s worst fear. Alzheimer’s was ravaging her father’s brain, stealing his memories and his health.
James Fountain, Sylvia’s father, passed away at age 76 in April of 2017, about three years after she first detected the symptoms.
“Dad was my hero…my everything,” said Sylvia.
To honor her father, and to utilize the position as a platform to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, Sylvia decided to compete in the 2019 United States of America’s Miss Colorado Pageant. Competing as Mrs. Aurora (the competition has categories for Teen, Miss, Ms. and Mrs.), Sylvia will vie for the statewide crown Jan. 13, 2019, at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs.
Every contestant selects a charity that is important to them, and Sylvia has chosen the Alzheimer’s Association in memory of her father.
“As an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association, I would like to become a voice to seek change; to raise awareness, facilitate early investigation, diagnosis and treatment,” she said. “I want to seek ways to improve services for people with dementia and their families.”
There is a critical need for raising awareness in the African American/Black community, where Alzheimer’s diagnosis rates run twice as high as the general population. High blood pressure and heart health play a role in those higher statistics.
“I am sorry that I was not aware of all of the invaluable programs and services that the Alzheimer’s Association provides to Colorado families at no charge while we were caring for my dad,” said Sylvia. “In honor of my father, and recognizing the Alzheimer’s history that runs through my family, I feel it is important for me to use my voice and this platform to create awareness of this disease and the tools we have available through the Alzheimer’s Association to cope with it.”
The United States of America’s Miss Colorado competition includes a personal interview, swimwear competition, evening gown competition and onstage question. The pageant’s mission is “to build a community of passion-driven women who invoke change and are making an impact in their communities. “There also is a component called “People’s Choice” that allows the public to vote on their favorite contestant.A portion of the proceeds from the voting will go to the charity identified by the candidate – the Alzheimer’s Association for Sylvia Waller.