Sunday, July 29, 2007

Take A Walk, It May Help You Remember

Alzheimer's Disease is one of the genealogist's most dreaded enemies. It robs our loved ones (as well as ourselves in some cases) of precious family memories... stories that are lost even while our loved ones are still with us in body and spirit. Clues to our heritage, stories about old photographs, memories of eras gone by... all are lost to us when dementia takes hold of the mind and destroys those precious memories. There is no cure for the ravages of Alzheimer's but there is something you can do to help support the individuals who suffer from it and their loved ones who suffer as well.

From the Alzheimer's Association web site:
The Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk® is the nation's largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer care, support and research. Since 1989, Memory Walk has raised more than $225 million. Held annually in hundreds of communities across the country, this inspiring event calls on volunteers of all ages to become champions in the fight against Alzheimer's. This year, more than 200,000 participants will be on the move to end Alzheimer's.
I will be one of them.

I first got involved with this event last year
. I wish I had gotten involved in it sooner. In the last 6 months I have lost two loved ones to this heartbreaking disease; my dear friend Bob Postula and my own dear mother. I know first hand the pain of watching someone once vibrant with life become a shell of the person they once were. It's a very hard thing to go through and the Alzheimer's Association is a wonderful resource to turn to for support in those difficult times. I believe in supporting this very valuable organization and I encourage you to support it too. Together we can help find the cure for this disease and preserve those precious memories a little longer... allowing us to have more time with our mentally competent loved ones and giving them more quality of life in their later years.

So why am I bringing this subject up now? The Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk® takes place on different dates throughout the country. The vast majority of walks take place between August 25th and October 31st, so they aren't that far off. You can find out when a walk near you is taking place here. It's not too early to start thinking about getting involved. Consider getting a team together... family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors... and you'll have a really great time while supporting a very worthwhile organization.

I can't speak for walks in other areas but the one here in metro Detroit is held at the Detroit Zoo. So the venue is a fun one to begin with. The organizers arrange to have booths from a variety of sponsors at the finish line and the amount of food, freebies, and fun is unbelievable. It's a huge party! In spite of the very serious cause for getting together, the spirit is absolutely festive, rain or shine. If you have participated in a Memory Walk near you, please leave a comment and let me know what your experience has been.

If you haven't yet gotten involved in this event, please give it serious consideration. You just never know when you or one of your loved ones will become afflicted by this dreaded disease... how heartbreaking it will feel when they can't remember your name or you can't remember theirs... and how much family history will be lost. You won't get a warning that it's coming, you'll write it off to "old age" when it first does, and before you know it, it will be too late to retrieve those memories you thought would still be there when you got around to recording them. Do something now while you can still make a difference. Take a walk, it just may help you remember.

To get creative making team (family) t-shirts for the walk, check out Family Walkin' Shirts on my other blog.