Hi! I’m Linda. Thank you for opening my website and checking out what I have to say. First, let me tell you why I accepted the invitation to dance and raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. Then I’ll share a bit more about me. First, the why:
“I know you’re the most beautiful, the most wonderful person in the world, but I don’t’ know who you are.”
He had always said he might forget everyone and everything else, but he would never forget me. But that awful morning came when looking up at me with clear and gentle eyes, he said those words. We had been married for 38 years and known one another almost all of our lives. How awful a disease that robs one so fully engaged in life of his very identity and that of those closest to him.
As we took that journey together, he slowly forgot how to manage his business, where home was, how to dial a phone, searching over and over again for something always just out of his reach. As strength and ability left him—at first slowly then as though in a race to diminish him the most--I became his protector and primary care giver. It was hard. It was heart breaking.
Many of you have taken or witnessed that journey with someone you have loved. So you can understand why when invited to be part of “The 2018 Dancing Stars of Atlanta” benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association, I was honored to accept. It’s like having some small way of fighting back. Some small way of finding meaning out of grief.
Did you know the Alzheimer’s Association is the third largest contributor to Alzheimer’s research after the governments of China and the United States? That is in addition to providing caregiver and patient support and information to all of us. So, though the dancing performance is a bit daunting, the fundraising commitment is even more so, but also the part that gives this meaning.
I hope YOU will support me as I seek to reach and surpass my goal of $50,000 and dance my way to a mirror ball trophy too!
And now that bit of information about me:
I was reared in Macon, Georgia with two wonderful parents (Joe and Anne Sutherland) and the best sister anyone could wish. After graduating from Wake Forest in 1964, I taught in high schools in Winston-Salem, Atlanta, Georgia and Knoxville, Tennessee. Then, completed a Masters in Educational Psychology in 1969 (University of Tennessee) and moved to Orlando, Florida where I worked primarily with students involved with the Juvenile Court System for various criminal and drug behaviors. This led to serving as Director of a Youth Development Center then as Associate Executive Director of a 10 center drug and alcohol program based in Orange County, Florida.
Marriage to a widower (1974) with five children not only resulted in a move to Atlanta, but a time of focusing on home and parenting. In 1989 I returned to the classroom, this time as a seminary student at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and completed a Masters in Theological Studies, receiving ordination in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I founded a pastoral care ministry with older adults in independent, assisted and early memory care housing (Campbell-Stone Christian Centers), served as a clinical supervisor in Candler School of Theology’s contextual education program, and held various other leadership positions: starting a parent association in a special needs school, serving as president of my local congregation and as moderator of my regional church (Georgia, parts of South Carolina, Alabama, and Florida), as president of my home owner’s association, and on the leadership council of the Forum of Spirituality and Aging of the American Society of Aging, and serving as Interim Pastor for four churches.
I was widowed in 2013, and retired in 2015 from formal ministry to focus on an ever growing family (22 grands and greats!!) and an extensive bucket list that includes lots of travel and laughter. Currently, I serve on the Board of Visitors for the Divinity School at Wake Forest University, the Council for Christmount Camp and Conference Center in Black Mountain, NC, and the Board for MountainTop Lectures in partnership with North Georgia College. But my most treasured roles, outside of family, have been as a pastor, a regional elder, and as Associate Minster of my home church of 40 years, Sandy Springs Christian Church.
Now, I dare to risk living, loving and dancing again!
Thank you for checking me out and thank you for your support!
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