As a sponsor of the 2018 Walk End Alzheimer's, we have come across some very inspiring stories on why some supporters are Walking...
“I come from a rather large family of 12. Approximately 8 years ago, one of my older sisters was diagnosed with dementia. Imagine our shock receiving this diagnosis. Our family is overloaded with heart disease but not dementia. Over the next few years, we watched as our beloved sister & mother left us. Although she was still with us physically there was nothing of her that was left by the time she went to be with The Lord earlier this year. Approximately 18 months ago, our oldest sister was also diagnosed with dementia. Again, shock!!! However, it affected her totally different. She became a different person as her disease progressed and it progressed rapidly. She passed away about 13 months after receiving the diagnosis.”
“Why do I walk? I walk for my two sisters, for all the people who are living with dementia/alzheimer’s and for the families of those who have lost a loved one whether by physical death or slowly by with disease. The ultimate goal is to find a cure for this horrible disease that destroys the minds of so many people.”
Martha Smith- River Region WEA
“I walk in honor of my husband, Greg Kiser, who is living with Alzheimer’s, and in memory of my mother-in-law, Lois Kiser, who lost her battle with Alzheimer’s on February 7, 2017. I walk to be the voice of everyone that this disease has impacted – and their loved ones who most often are also their caregivers.
In 2014, Greg was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. We’d known a few years prior that something was wrong, but he had been a picture of health – he was only 54 years old, ate healthy, exercised daily, stayed in perfect physical shape. At 5’ 4” tall, he weighed 160 pounds. He continued to be a competitive Powerlifter, holding many US and world records in his weight class. What could possibly be wrong? Why was he forgetting things? Finding a doctor to evaluate a seemingly healthy person was difficult!
Greg was a self-employed diesel mechanic with the ability to fix anything with an engine or motor – from a refrigerator, to a weed-eater, to a lawn mower, to a car, to an 18-wheeler, to a forestry skidder and so on. You name it! Greg could fix it! ALL those abilities are now lost to Alzheimer’s.
To live the Alzheimer’s experience with an otherwise healthy person is difficult. Physically he is still as healthy as ever. Mentally, I lose a little bit more of him every day. I stay encouraged, however, by the work being done by researchers and doctors and the volunteers who support their efforts to stop this cruel disease. That’s why this walk is so important to me.
Greg was MY rock for 22 of our 27 year marriage. Now I try to be HIS rock. He depends on me to make life decisions for him, to help him dress daily, administer his medicines, prepare meals, carry him to doctor’s appointments and provide all other transportation needs. Greg went from needing zero medicines a day to taking a total of 10 pills per day minimum. I am fortunate to have someone with him every day, but I do as much as possible in addition to working a full-time job to support us and provide a caregiver when I cannot be with him. A great support system is a must or I couldn’t do this. I am blessed with a great manager, wonderful co-workers and awesome support from family on both sides – in addition to great friends who keep us uplifted.
As you can see from reading above, my decision in walking each year is personal. It’s personal because Alzheimer’s is stealing my husband day by day. It’s also personal because I now understand firsthand the human toll on the person, the spouse/caregiver, the family and friends. I walk in hopes of a cure! I walk because I want my husband to grow old with me. I won’t give up that fight!!! I walk because brilliant minds are at stake. I walk because this disease hasn’t given me a choice – so I walk to make choices possible. I walk because I love him.”
Menzella Kiser- River Region WEA
“ I walk not because my mom had Alzheimer’s. She had melanoma brain tumors which caused similar symptoms. I walk for my friends Lisa, Melisa and Christy who lost their mothers to this disease and for Christy M. who is having to watch her mother slowly fade away. I walk so that hopefully there will be new breakthroughs so that if this happens to my daughter, she won’t have to watch me fade away and forget who she is.”
Cheryl Stanford - River Region WEA