William's Walk Donation Page
In the mid-60’s my mother’s heart was broken as she witnessed Alzheimer’s disease slowly steal her father’s memories and, what is more, change his entire personality. When he went after my grandmother with a pillow and tried to suffocate her, my mother had no choice, but to place him in residential care. Instead of taking all those trips he and my grandmother dreamt about, the proud CEO of Western Union who oversaw the laying of the first intercontinental cable, slept, unshaven, in his rumpled suit and seldom emerged from his room. After he died, my mother repeatedly told us, “I do not care how I die, but I pray I do not die of Alzheimer’s.” Her prayer was not answered.
In the summer of 1998 my family and I were visiting my parents in Santa Fe, NM. My mother came to the hotel where we were staying and told us about a new bookstore in town. She asked if we wanted to visit it. My wife and I told her we did. So, we walked out of our room to the elevator, took it down one floor, and stepped out into the lobby. My mother then looked around confused, turned to me and asked, “Where are we going?” In five minutes she had forgotten something that was important enough to her that she drove from their home to the hotel to tell us about. This was not normal. After we returned to New York, my father went with her to a neurologist and, before long, they were told she had dementia, most likely Alzheimer’s disease. Her prayer had not been answered.
She was angry and we were devastated. At first, my mother developed little tricks to help her remember things. She found ways of disguising the disease. As time went on it became more and more difficult for my father to care for her. One day she wandered eight miles from home and was not found until one in the morning. She no longer recognized my father as her husband of over fifty years. She simply referred to him as “the man with all the rules.” My father lay awake at nights worrying about how he was to pay for her care. When he did manage to fall asleep, she would wake up and, agitated, wake him up as well. In 2006 my father realized that his prayers for my mother were not going to be answered. He died of a broken heart. Four years later, my mother’s body forgot how to rouse itself in the morning. I received a call letting me know that the people in the facility where she lived could not rouse her. Twenty minutes later they called to let me know she was gone. My brother, my sister and I had prayed one of us could be with her when the time came for her to die. Our prayer was not answered.
My story is not unique. Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. There are currently over 5.4 million Americans living with the disease. If we do not find a cure or, at least, a way to slow down the progress of the disease, by 2050 there will be 16 million living with Alzheimer’s.
On September 23rd I will join 1,500 other people in a Walk to End Alzheimer’s® that will be held at Siena College. I invite you to join my team – The Memory Keepers – so that together we can create a world without Alzheimer’s.
Together, we can be the answer to someone's prayer, we can end Alzheimer's disease. Please make a donation to advance the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer's Association.
Thank you for joining the fight against Alzheimer's!
Thank you for helping us advance Alzheimer's support, care and research!
I have raised