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WHY I WALK: HOPE
WHY I WALK: HOPE

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June 21, 2020 Update

Happy Father's Day to All!

I can't think of a more fitting time to share my story of my Dad and "Why I Walk" than today on Father's Day.  While it is painful to celebrate this holiday for the first time without him, it is also healing as I wish to be able to help those with the diagnosis, their loved ones, and caregivers navigate through the journey as safely and cohesively as possible.  

I beyond appreciate that we are still in the midst of a pandemic and that life for many has been uprooted and changed forever, and for that, my heart extends to you and always will. 

Unfortunately, Alzheimer's disease knows no boundaries and continues to march on. As a great percentage of our population continues to age, Alzheimer's Disease is projected to ravage that population in unprecedented numbers. That is why the Alzheimer's Association is so important more now than ever:  It continues its daily work to provide free support to those impacted by this horrible disease and is seeking THE CURE.  

I respectfully ask that you please view my video posted on Facebook and on the Silicon Valley Walk to End Alzheimer's Facebook page.  Here you will find how dedicated I am to support early detection of the disease and promote the Association's work.  

I would like to leave you with a personal story of hope that I was unable to keep in the video due to length considerations.   As I talk about in my video, my Dad was all about relationships and he loved people - making connections - more than anything in the world.  His relationships turned out to be a lifesaver many times over and I am forever thankful. 

Here is an example: One late night, a few years ago, before my Dad came into my care, I received a phone call from a staff worker at the downtown San Jose Fairmont Hotel- which my Dad developed - to say my Dad was lost.  The gentleman on the line - who had know my Dad since the hotel first opened in 1987 -was full of emotion when he told me my Dad didn't know who he was, but he sure remembered my Dad because of the kindness with which he always treated him. I am forever grateful to this gentleman. And the relationship that bonded my Dad and him together.

May 20, 2020 Update:

Greetings Friends and Family of Silicon Valley Walk to End Alzheimer's Team Go BIG for Kim & Martha SMALL!

Today is "Why I Walk' day.

The Walk is how we can individually and as a community continue to raise funds and awareness to support the Alzheimer's Association. 

I Walk so that in the future, no-one's golden years look like my parents, Martha & Kim Small.  

I Walk so caregiver's also don't suffer.  

I Walk for justice, respect, honor, and decency for our vulnerable elders. 

I Walk for HOPE.

I hope you'll join me:)

Take good care everyone:)

xo Mary Lynn

Dear Friends and Family of Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and Philanthropist the late Kimball "Kim" Small and his pre-deceased wife Martha.

I reach out to you at this crisis time in our world's history with a heavy heart...but I always have hope. It is with this perspective I will reflect on both the Coronavirus - COVID-19 outbreak and its intersection with Alzheimer's Disease.  Thank you for continuing to read. 

After over a decade of being both my mother and then my father's principal caregiver in their battles with Alzheimer's Disease, my father's death this past October 2019 spurred me to believe the moment was right to honor their memory by making a BIG, positive impact with the Alzheimer's Association via the Silicon Valley Walk -taking place on my parents' home turf.

And I can assure you that when I tackle something, I go BIG.  

As many of you know, my father, Kim Small, was the master developer in the re-gentrification of downtown San Jose in the 1980s, bringing retail, the Fairmont Hotel, and other landmark office buildings which ultimately supported and spurred the tech revolution. Kim and Martha were also intimately entwined with the Silicon Valley community, supporting the arts and a range of other charities/philanthropies, as they believed that all aspects of a society's way to connect and make a difference in others' lives was vital. 

I will periodically be updating this page as is appropriate and sensitive, particularly in light of the COVID-10 pandemic currently sweeping our world.  First and foremost, let me extend my greatest sympathies to anyone suffering or who has lost a loved one to this dreadful virus.  Having directly taken care of two Alzheimer's Disease-afflicted parents, I can relate to the patient and caregiver's daily fatigue, stress, range of emotions, grief and trauma. It's downright scary and dysregulating.  Please take good care of yourselves. 

I see our country's response to the COVID-19 outbreak as a template for the future on how we relate as a unified people in response to arbitrary illness.  If there is to be a silver lining to the pandemic, let us hope that we as a humanity become more attuned to the needs, conditions, symptoms, and challenges that a suffering person experiences.  My hope is this crisis will encourage those of us with sound body and mind in ways SMALL and BIG to help, guide, support, be creative, educate ourselves, and tap into our own and collective resources with the potential to bring about healing and cohesion. 

We're currently witnessing a young generation of teens, 20-. 30-, and even some early 40-year-olds having their first true experience with what it means to be the "sandwich" generation, i.e. taking care of those younger and older than them.  They're being asked as a cohort to take great steps to protect the vulnerable and the elderly - both strangers and known individuals - by social distancing, helping with groceries and food delivery, and stopping their social lives, - amongst other changes - when for the majority of their lifetimes choices, answers, and gratification instantaneously pop-up on a handheld device.

I am proud to bear witness to the way these younger generations have risen to the occasion. This modulated behavior and awareness of other's suffering is now indelibly part of a younger generation's conscience.  This sense of community compassion is what we must continue to underscore and tap into. 

Hopefully a vaccination for COVID-19 will emerge soon.  This will undoubtedly calm the country's mood and aid in re-stabilizing the economy and our citizen's physical and mental equilibrium.  We'll be changed as a nation for a while for sure, but we will go on, we will move forward.  That's the American way. 

But let it also be the American way to take what we have now learned to do well through this terrifying experience: joining forces.  From grassroots groups with county/state efforts to SMALL and BIG businesses collaborating with federal government agencies, we will create in even more unified front to protect the vulnerable and elderly. 

I propose once this pandemic subsides, we apply that same "can do" attitude to the fight against Alzheimer's Disease. 

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's Disease.  No vaccination. No magic pill. 

And if the numbers of COVID-19 are startling, the Alzheimer's case numbers - where the end result is eventually death - are downright shocking.  Currently more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's Disease and that number is expected to grow to as many as 14 million by 2050. 

In this time of need for so many, my first effort is not to ask for money for the Alzheimer's Association, although this is how any business, particularly a non-profit, must survive. 

Check this link out for resources to help you navigate your experience with Alzheimer's Disease, whether you are at the beginning of yours or a loved one's journey, or moving toward the end.  Simply go to alz.org  ... And for those who prefer human interaction, you can call the 24/7 Help Line 1.800.272.3900.

My guess is many of you reading this may be caring for or know someone who is caring for someone who has Alzheimer's Disease, an experience which has undoubtedly been painfully compounded by this COVID-19 crisis.   

The Alzheimer's Association is set up NOW to support you and provide you free tips  for caregivers on how to best support the Alzheimer's patient in the context of this pandemic. This is the amazing pro-active work that is in place to help all of us now and be prepared for the explosion of Alzheimer's Disease cases projected to be coming our way.  No family is or will be immune. 

If history is a teacher, our past and current events show us that we can never be too prepared, have enough information, nor enough tools to best protect and care for our most vulnerable and elderly population.  

The Alzheimer's Association is committed to early detection, funding research, providing support, materials, and outreach.  They will leave no stone unturned to find the cure to this disease.  For now, Alzheimer's Disease is the victor.  Our challenge is to conquer it.  Because that's what we do as individuals, as a community, nation, and as citizens of the world. 

I thank you again for reading and I will be back to you with more personal stories about how the trajectory of my Dad's life went from BIG to SMALL combatting this Alzheimer's Disease and the personal impact it had on me as his daughter, caregiver, and mostly as a human being. 

Be well and stay safe everyone. 

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