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2021 Article

Dyan was diagnosed officialy in 2018. While some families would take an -understandable- moment to pause and mourn this unknown new future, Honey and her family dove right in to finding solutions that worked for them. Honey contacted the Alzheimer’s Association on the day her mom was diagnosed to discuss care planning, disease information, and how to give back to families like hers. Honey’s father, a football coach and educator, worked in the same school as Dyan. During the diagnostic process, the couple decided to retire early on the same day, “walking out hand in hand” to start their care partner journey together. Honey’s parents actually moved to a house three miles away from Honey so she could assist with her mom’s care early last year as the pandemic was growing. “We now live closer than we ever have before,” exclaims Honey.

Through the family’s caregiving journey, there have been calls to the Association’s 24/7 helpline. Honey appreciates this service, giving the family a sense of community, “knowing that you have an advocate, that someone is in your corner. There is place you can call at any time.” There also have been online connections. But most of all, there has been a real sense of hope for the future through participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s- Iredell County. They unfortunately had to miss their first year event due to work schedules, so the family first walked together in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. Somehow, through the adversity of caregiving in the middle of an isolating epidemic, Honey’s walk team Team Di managed to be the top fundraising team! The family donned their purple hats and walk t-shirts and walked around Dyan’s neighborhood. Even in the drizzle, they met two neighbors who offered donations on the spot. “We got featured on the local news! [I loved] hearing her name and sharing her story. It was such a moment of honoring her,” remembers Honey. Friends from all around the country were watching the family’s news spot and sent supportive text messages. Her dad even teared up taking pictures as a family. This day literally gave the family “a bounce in their step.”

Honey and her family have plans this year to walk on September 25, no matter what that actually looks like this year, as pandemic walk veterans. Even though they started their journey “apart”, Honey still felt that sense of connection that many feel on Walk day. “It just makes you feel like there are other folks out there. It gives you a real sense of belonging, knowing that there are other people with similar stories out there.” They plan to have family Walk t-shirts again, and their walk team will grow with more friends and family. At more than$2,000 raised so far, Team Di has already raised more money than last year, through direct outreach of family and friends.

When Honey reaches out to friends and family to raise money for her team, she focuses on the Association’s research efforts, which seems so natural to hear her speaking about her hopes. “It’s just about knowing that efforts are being directed towards research. It’s encouraging and hopeful knowing that someone could be spared [in the future]. Groundbreaking research is a victory for all of us. To find that first survivor… everyone will feel a sense of joy,” explains Honey. Coming from a journey of isolation which, to be clear, has been hard on the whole family, Honey just sounds so hopeful. Honey shares that the walk has been “a blessing” to her family, even as their hearts break. Here’s to hoping all caregivers find this sense of connection at their walk this fall. Honey can attest- you are not alone. To her, the walk is “about that sense of belonging. It’s like you’re holding hands with everyone and lifting your hands together in unity. We see you, we love you, we are trying to get you more help.”

LIKE HONEY, WE ALL HAVE A REASON TO FIGHT FOR A WORLD WITHOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE. Join your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s today.

The Alzheimer’s Association hosts 17 walks across North Carolina. The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Since 1989, the Alzheimer’s Association® mobilized millions of Americans in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk®; now the Alzheimer’s Association is continuing to lead the way with Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s.

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Robert H McLaughlin
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Gail McClure
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