As a preteen and teenager, I watched my grandfather, Jim Appelquist, slowly lose the downward-spiraling, relentless battle that is early-onset Alzheimer's disease. He was diagnosed in 2008 at the age of 55, and in September of 2012, his long battle ended. Before the disease, he was the friendliest, most outgoing, most warm-hearted person I knew. We always said he never knew a stranger, and he never turned down a bowl of ice cream, no matter what time of day. Living next door to him, I was a close witness every day as the disease took everything that made him who he was and changed him into an angry, often cold, and grouchy person, and then ultimately into an almost-empty shell of a person near the end.
I walk for many reasons. Losing my grandpa to this disease was a very difficult and heartbreaking time in my life. I walk in memory and honor of the life he lived before this disease. I also walk for myself, and for my family and friends. I don't want to see myself or anyone else I know go through the daily struggles, heartbreaks, and exhaustion of this disease.
Lastly, I walk for my community. I get emotional every year during the Walk, when I look around and see everyone around me and realize that this huge community of people, each with different stories and different experiences, is here to support, uplift, and carry each other. I'm proud to be a part of this community, and will continue to Walk, will continue to support and uplift those who are caught up in the storm of this terrible disease, until the day we have a cure and we can raise that white flower for the first, and hopefully the last, time.
Thank you for helping advance Alzheimer's support, care and research.
I have raised
Walk Committee Member