May 13th, 2017 5:30pm @ Florida High School
This will be my 4th year participating in RivALZ and I could not be more excited! Thank you for your support, love and encouragement.
And especially thanks to Tyler, who LOVES my brunette friends and gives me hope that we will find a cure for this ugly disease before he's old enough to understand what it is.
P.S. I've been overall top fundrasier for 3 years in a row and going for 4!
My story from 2015 about a friendly game of rivalry that inspires me to keep playing for past generatons and future ones...
Could Flag Football Help End Alzheimer’s?
Wendi Cannon plays football – not professionally; not on some community sports league; not be cause she grew up playing the game; she plays to end Alzheimer’s disease. Wendi is 36, lives in Tallahassee, has a little boy, Tyler (almost 3) and a beloved grandmother who was diagnosed with the nation’s sixth leading cause of death in America, Alzheimer’s disease. Wendi goes headtohead in a friendly, but essential game of football where blondes and brunettes battle it out to raise money for their loved ones. Wendi plays for her grandmother, Sharon Robinson. “I grew up in South Florida and lived so close to my grandparents. They are such a big, important part of my life. When I went to college at FSU, I visited them five or six times a year,” she says. “Grandma and Grandpa went to every recital, every volleyball game and anything else I was into. They were always there for me and my parents.”
Two years before her grandmother’s diagnosis in 2013, Wendi and the family started to notice Sharon’s memory slipping and things being a little “off”. Finally, Gary Robinson (Sharon’s husband), took her to a doctor who ran several tests. Numerous months passed, and the diagnosis came back that it was Alzheimer’s disease. “Mom told me and I was shocked. It just stopped me in my tracks. At the time, the only thing I knew was that people died from it – I thought it would happen right away. I was so scared,” said Wendi. The disease began taking its toll on Sharon. She suered more and more memory loss, confusion and anxiety. “It was, and is so hard for me,” says Wendi. “Grandma was such a fantastic, vibrant grandmother. In her early seventies, she had so much life left to give us. Now, two years after the diagnosis, she doesn’t always recognize me. Sometimes, she doesn’t even recognize my mom. Her birthday just happened. She turned 76 – and it’s just so hard to understand. Grandma never drank alcohol, she exercised daily, and she ate all the right foods. She was the healthiest person I knew. She and Grandpa have been married for 57 years – they are happy, healthy, loving people. And, losing her like this – watching her lose reality and everything she loves – I felt so helpless. I wanted to do something about it.”
Wendi did do something. She was at a networking event for young professionals, and someone told her about the Blondes vs. Brunettes football game in Tallahassee that raises money annually for Alzheimer’s disease research, support services and education. “That day, I registered to be on the brunette team,” she says. Never having fundraised, Wendi was nervous about asking for money. “The game was coming up so fast, and I felt I was going to be horrible at fundraising. I sent an email out to all my family and friends and hoped for the best. Literally, in a few weeks, I raised $700.00. I couldn’t believe people’s generosity,” Wendi remembers. “Everyone was so eager to help.”
Practices happened, Wendi made dear friends on her team, and then game time came. “I loved it!” she said. “I liked the energy and enthusiasm everyone put forth. I met people who were right around my age caring and communitydriven like me,” she says. “I’m Facebook friends with my teammates we’ve become close and it is a special bond we share.” Wendi Cannon plans on being a part of the brunettes’ first victory this year. “I have never been that competitive,” she says. “But, when we play, everyone wins – mostly the next generation. Maybe because of some small eort on my part, my son won’t have to play for me,” she adds.