I walk to #ENDALZ in honor of my father, Brian Cottle...
In April 2012, my father was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at 52. That was the start of my journey with the Alzheimer’s Association. That following month, my mom and I both got involved with the Walk to End Alzheimer's as volunteers and joined the Columbia Walk committee. Two years later, I became the volunteer event chair for the Columbia Walk and was the event chair for the next five years. In September of 2019, I accepted a position as a Walk Manager with the Alzheimer’s Association. I serve the communities of Columbia, Macon and Kirksville.
After diagnosis, our family decided that we would be open and honest about all things Alzheimer’s. There has always been a stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s. It was looked at as something that made you weak or less than a whole person. That could not be further from the truth and we set out to change the narrative.
My dad also got involved with the Association, and it gave him an opportunity to do something to help others in a similar situation, rather than just dealing with the disease himself. It gave him a chance to speak to the community and raise awareness. It gave him a sense of purpose.
For my mother and me, it gave us a chance to meet and learn from others who had been there before us. It allowed us to become active in our community and listen, learn, and help others who didn’t have the time, energy or voice to fight alongside those of us who could.
In the last three years of my father’s illness, I quit my job and moved back home with my mother so we could care for my father together. It was draining. Caring for a loved one that is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is a full-time job. There are no days off. It feels like it is never going to end. It is extremely overwhelming and it feels like you are on an island by yourself with no lifeboat.
My mother and I had each other. I am and will be forever grateful for the courage and strength she showed during our journey. We were ‘each other's rocks’ as she likes to put it. So often I forget that there are countless others out there who don’t have a rock to lean on in their journey. They are on an island. Alone.
This is where the Alzheimer’s Association steps in.
We fight everyday to give a voice to the voiceless. To bring care, resources and a rock to lean on for those who don’t have one. Whether it’s the Longest Day, Walk to End Alzheimer’s, or any of the countless events we hold to raise awareness, we are here for you. I am here for you.
Everyday I am reminded why I do what I do. Not just for my father, but the countless others who have been taken to soon and they countless more who will be. I am also reminded that I work with some of the most amazing people at the Alzheimer's Association and have met some of the most amazing people through the Alzheimer's Association. When I was younger, I had no idea I would be here but I'm thankful everyday that I'm at where I'm at. Working alongside the most amazing people for a cause that means so much.
Thank you for helping advance Alzheimer's support, care and research.
I have raised