By Kris Bakowski
Board Member, Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter
When I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I felt helpless. There wasn’t anything that I could do or take to make it go away. My friends kept asking me what they could do to help. It was very frustrating.
But as I began to deal with my situation, I realized how little people actually knew about this disease. There were lots of misconceptions out there and I wanted to do what I could to help educate and bring awareness to Alzheimer’s.
So, I asked my friends what groups they belong to so I could go talk to them. Then I asked my friends and family to walk with me in the Walk To End Alzheimer’s. They loved the idea. They felt like they were helping and they were. After walking for many years our team, TEAM ATHENS, has about thirty members. And, over the last 10 years our team has raised over $60,000 for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
I proudly wear my purple t-shirts from the Walks and get many comments on them. Sometimes I convert those conversations into donations or gain a team member.
My friends and family enjoy our yearly Walk. They help raise money all sort of ways. One team member uses coupons while grocery shopping and saves her receipts. At the end of the year she tallies up all of her savings and donates that money to the Walk. Another team member likes to bake for all the widowed men at her church, bringing them goodies each week. But a few times a year, she asks for donations for her goodies to go toward the Walk. Some people collect their change all year long. There are a lot of creative ways to raise money for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
We don’t realize how many people are touched by Alzheimer’s . Since I was diagnosed people come to me with questions about others that may be facing the diagnosis. If you look at the “communities” that you belong to whether at your church, softball team, work, mother’s group – someone is affected by the disease. Many are uncomfortable talking about it. But the “Walk” community embraces the disease and helps to bring the color purple to the forefront. We are all there because we share a common bond and want to do what we can to help fight Alzheimer’s in our own little way. But with all of us banding together it becomes a big way to help target the disease.
Alzheimer’s is usually considered an “alone” disease. Meaning that when you have it you feel alone or your family feels alone in dealing with it. It becomes personal. You don’t want to burden others with it. But we need to give this disease a public face and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is a way to do that. Walk Day is fun, it feels like family, everyone understands. We honor those we have lost and we celebrate our lives. I have tried to take the diagnosis as I am living with Alzheimer’s, not dying from it.
You can donate to Kris’s Walk to End Alzheimer’ team at TEAM ATHENS.
To start a team or to donate, visit georgiawalk.org