Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Participants carry flowers to show their relationship to Alzheimer’s. The yellow flower denotes caregivers, and the purple flower means you have lost someone to Alzheimer’s. There are also blue and orange flowers.

Today, Steve and I participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  Our team, “Walk for the Health of It!” had four members who raised money and walked.  As a team we have currently raised $2,700 and are in fifth place for fundraising.  Pretty cool!

I was asked if I would speak at the opening ceremony.  I agreed.  It took me a while to write my speech.  I just couldn’t seem to get started and yet I had to submit my speech in advance for approval.  At the end of September I e-mailed off what I thought I’d say.  A couple of weeks later I received an edited version with minimal changes.  I began reading it daily, saying it out loud to practice an hopefully memorize my speech.  Fortunately, last week I decided I’d practice by giving my speech for the class I teach on Tuesdays.

I did an awful job.  No, I really mean it.  I was extremely nervous and I don’t know why.  I was giving this speech for six people that I know.  Maybe that was part of the problem.  Either way, my heart was racing and I kept running out of breath as I spoke!  Good grief! I couldn’t remember one word and instead read what I had written.  When I finished I asked the group for their input.  One person liked what I had written (I liked it too, but I just couldn’t say it!).  One person politely said, “I’m sure you already know what words to emphasize….” and the third said, “You spoke way too fast, so you ran out of breath.”  It hadn’t even occurred to me that was why I ran out of breath!

I was bothered by my performance.  I talk to groups of people about our journey.  I’ve been part of a well-rehearsed panel discussion twice.  I speak to my class weekly.  And then it hit me.  I talk, rather than give a speech.  Although I had written the speech, I realized the words really weren’t coming from the heart.  I felt I had to get each and every word in that I had written.  I didn’t give myself any room for flexibility.  I realized this wouldn’t work.

For the next two days my family heard, “What do you think of this?” and I’d read something I’d rewritten. My friends looked at me like I was crazy when I said I was nervous and all had the same response, “You’ve done this so many times.   You’ll be fine!”  “Yeah, but I don’t give speeches, I talk!” “So talk.” And I started to turn my speech into talking points.  I even worked on it at the high school football game last night.

I had previously been asked to share with you what I said this morning.  Of course I don’t know exactly what I said, so I’m typing what I was planning to say and figure it’s close enough!

It’s wonderful to see so many bright, smiling faces on this bright Saturday morning.  The weather is much nicer than last year’s cold, rainy morning.  Whether you are hear for a friend, relative or stranger, we are united in the goal to end Alzheimer’s.  We are supported by those who made donations, and those who we carry with us in our hearts.

5.4 million Americans in the United States of America are living with Alzheimer’s.  It is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the 4th leading cause of death in Orange County, and this is one area where we don’t want to be an over-achiever! Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.  We need to work together to fight Alzheimer’s.  We are the driving force in winning this battle!

Our introduction to the Alzheimer’s Association began in December 2009 when my husband, who was 55 years old at the time was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment.  I focused on the word “mild” and tried not to overreact to the conflicting data I was reading on the internet.  Searching for trustworthy information, I contacted the Alzheimer’s Association and received reassurance, facts, education, information, and the opportunity to help others.  Everything provided to us and others who need their services is provided free of charge by the Alzheimer’s Association.

The day will come when Alzheimer’s is like polio, and it is something we read about in history books and we are the ones to make that happen!  Today we are working together in our quest to make the end of Alzheimer’s a reality.  As a group, we have raised $75,000 so far and we can do more!  We can educate others on why Alzheimer’s needs to end.  We are advocates in this battle.  On Monday, when people ask what you did this weekend, tell them what you did and why.  Enlist more warriors in the fight.  This is one battle we can’t afford to lose, and no one can win alone.  Today each of us can say, “The End of Alzheimer’s starts with me!”

Today I walk for my husband because I don’t want our family to be further impacted by this cruel disease.  You are helping my family by being here today, and I thank you.  Thank you for participating and enjoy the walk!

I think it went well, and I received positive feedback about what I said.  Frankly, typing it above, there are parts I know I said, and parts I’m not sure I mentioned.  Either way, it’s done.

The walk was a success, and my friend who walked with us said she wants to do it again next year, and that next year she wants to fundraise more and move our team into third place! Let me know if you want to join us!

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Avatar of G-J

About G-J

I am a caregiver for my 59-year-old husband, Steve, who was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment in December 2009. His employer put him on disability and he had to retire one year later when he couldn't return to work. I am also the mother to our son who is now a high school senior. We have a cat, Sagwa, who rounds out our family. In addition to blogging here, I volunteer at my son's high school in the scholarship office, teach a class I created called, "Keep Your Brain Buff" at our city's Senior Center, lead a writing group at the Alzheimer's Association, and advocate for people with all types of dementia. In November, I will be participating in my third Walk to End Alzheimer's.

6 thoughts on “Walk to End Alzheimer’s

  1. Trish

    G-J, Congratulations on your walk and your speech! It looked great on paper and I’m sure you sounded awesome once you started “talking.” (You’ll have to thank your student for me – now I know why I get out of breath when talking sometimes! I’m a speed talker.). :-)

    I love what you said about hoping for a time in the future we can look back on Alzheimer’s like we do with Polio. What a wonderful vision!

    I made a donation to your team a few minutes ago. Nothing like squeaking in under the deadline. :-)

    Reply
  2. Avatar of DeniseDenise

    Hi G-J–It sounds like you had a terrific day. I love your speech! A touching call to action–just what’s needed to get everyone moving, not only yesterday but every day.

    And, awesome on your donations. That’s very, very impressive. !!!

    Reply
  3. Avatar of Bette

    Hi G-J,

    What a great job on your speech and fundraising!

    Did you find that the speech went easier and slower?

    I love the picture of you and your friend!

    Reply
  4. G-J

    Bette,

    Steve was kind enough last week to listen to me any time I wanted to practice. I did speak slower and tried to emphasize key points.

    My friend who walked with us told me I did hit all of my points. Also, we have one person who already wants to join our team next year!

    Reply
  5. Avatar of ejourneysejourneys

    G-J, fantastic job on the walk, the fundraising, and the speech! Talking too fast is a common error for people unused to public speaking, so you are not alone! You did a great job practicing and getting feedback. I love that you turned everything into talking points so that you had a structure but were also spontaneous and natural. Way to go. :-)

    Reply

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