Hi! I'm Kathy and I'm very pleased to participate in my ninth annual Walk to End Alzheimer's as part of an amazing team, Actors and Artists and Artists Unite to End Alzheimer's, under the leadership of our amazing team captain, Nancy Daly.
The goal of this effort and that of the Alzheimer's Association is something personally important to me.
There were two sisters, Marjorie and Billie Jean, born in Texas and rasied on a dairy farm in Arizona during the Depression. They were both beautiful: Billie Jean with her bright, impossibly blue eyes and bubble-cheeked smile, Marjorie with her classic dark French sophistication.
And they were talented, with lilting soprano voices heard in concert halls and on radio. They were gifted painters and crafters, they adored and cared for animals, and shared nearly identical laughs of pealing coloratura cadenzas. Together the sisters relocated to Los Angeles, where Marjorie pursued a singing career and Billie Jean, the first woman in her family to attend college, became a teacher of music and English. They both married and became mothers. When Marjorie's husband felt himself at a career crossroad, Billie Jean advised him to further his education and become a teacher, which became a perfect choice he never regretted.
Marjorie and Billie Jean both influenced me tremendously. From them I developed my early love of art, music, theater, wacky humor and, I believe, an appreciation of all things human. The importance of Marjorie and Billie Jean in my life is inestimable.
In recent years the sisters, both diagnosed with Alzheimer's, lived together as they had when when they first moved to California all those years ago.That the later years of these vibrant lives were and are so defined by this wasting disease has been devastating.
A cure for Alzheimer's did not come for the sisters. Marjorie, my mother, passed away on March 9, 2016. Billie Jean, my aunt, passed away on October 26, 2018, the day before our Walk.
I walk because Alzheimer's is not a natural part of the aging process. Cases of the disease are expected to triple in the US within the next forty years. It is the only one of the top 10 causes of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed down once it begins.
Because of this, I walk. And I walk in honor of the sisters.
I appreciate your support.
Thank you for helping advance Alzheimer's support, care and research.
I have raised