Denise Goerke was 56 when she was diagnosed in 2012 with Alzheimer’s disease. She and her husband, participated in their first Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Atlanta in 2013. “We wanted to give back. We realized that the Walk is an opportunity to gather our family and friends around the cause, help the Alzheimer’s Association achieve their mission, and to have some fun!”
Dan is Denise’s caregiver and wouldn’t have it any other way. “Immediately following Denise’s diagnosis, I became her caregiver. It is a job of love, compassion, something I would not turn down. It has been THE most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, and yet, it has also been the most rewarding and fulfilling.”
“Because of my role as caregiver, I have met so many wonderful friends through the Alzheimer’s Association, support groups, and I have grown as a person. I’ve learned patience, creativity in answering questions that once Denise may have done, and I have been able to make a difference in the fight against the disease.”
Each year, speaking at the Reason to Hope event, Dan talks about their ongoing journey with Alzheimer’s. “Denise lived a very dynamic, vibrant, fun, and action-filled life. All of the stories about Denise are my favorites.”
He also gets to speak about how the Alzheimer’s Association has helped them in coping with the disease. “We followed a care plan and attend support groups that were offered by the Association. I also used the 24/7 hotline at 5:00 am one time to help me resolve an issue I was having with Denise and the disease.”
Denise’s diagnosis in 2012 was a surprise. The disease has progressed rapidly, and in a short time since diagnosis, she is already in a memory care home. All before her 60th birthday. Denise was able to walk the first three Walks they participated in. “She and I wanted to give back so that a cure could be found and none of our children would have to worry about this disease.” This year, in their seventh Walk, Dan and his family will continue to fight and fundraise for a cure.
Dan and his family continue to honor Denise’s wishes to give back. The Goerke’s team, Team Swim Fins, currently ranks number one in fundraising in Atlanta. The team name has a personal meaning for her family. “Denise’s love of water was pervasive throughout her life. She grew up near the ocean, went sailing, skiing, and was a great swimmer. Just a few years ago she was still participating in an aquafit class and swimming laps like she has been doing since she was a kid. Our team name, “Swim Fins,” honors her love of water and swimming.”
The Atlanta walk ranks in the top 30 and is one of the most significant walks nationwide. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s takes place on September 28, 2019, at The Battery at SunTrust Park. Find a team to join, register for the Atlanta walk, or Donate here