On a warm August evening in Savannah, Georgia, 140 people gather at the Knights of Columbus Hall for a competitive game of BINGO. This is not just any game, this game is to raise money and honor a community member who is living with Alzheimer’s.
“This is our third year of hosting a BINGO fundraiser and we have outgrown the event space”, added Trish Torrance, team captain for Rusty’s Regulators.
Rusty’s Regulators started out as a family team in honor of the family’s father, Tom Kelley, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 58.
Over the years, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s team has grown to twenty members. This year, they added a second fundraiser called “Egg My Yard”. The team sells and then hides Easter eggs in people’s yards for their children. The word got around town and now Rusty’s Regulators Walk team signed up with three local churches to hide Easter eggs for their children’s congregation. Both events have raised almost $7,000.
Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. The event is hosted in over 600 communities across the country. Teams raise funds through asking for donations from family, friends or co-worker or hold small fundraisers in their communities.
Back in 2000, the Trish and her family began noticing signs that something was wrong with her dad’s memory. The most noticeable sign was when her dad asked why they had a cat and was unsure who the cat was.
“The cat was my dad’s baby so this was an immediate red flag that we could no longer ignore.”
Thirteen years have gone by since her dad was diagnosed. The first nine of those years Trish’s mother was the primary caregiver. Her dad was finally moved to a nursing home where he now receives hospice care.
“My dad served in Vietnam and had direct contact with Agent Orange, the chemical that was used to eliminate forest cover and crops,” added Trish. “You hear about the threat the chemical had on humans and I we wonder if this is what caused Alzheimer’s with my dad”.
Trish’s parents just celebrated their 50 year anniversary. Although her dad remains physically stable, Trish and her family have come to grips that each day her dad continues to fade away.
“What I miss more than anything is my dad’s laugh and what I would give to hear it again”, added Trish.
Trish’s hope is to continue to grow her walk team and raise even more money for Walk to End Alzheimer’s. But, more than anything, Trish’s number one hope is to find a cure in her lifetime.
“I worry that I will end up with Alzheimer’s and I worry about my daughter”, added Trish. “So my only choice is to not give up the fight to end Alzheimer’s.
To start a Walk to End Alzheimer’s team in a community near you, visit georgiawalk.org
To donate to Trish’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s team, visit Rusty’s Regulators.