Why We Walk: It began in May of 2011 via a series of phone calls and emails to my fellow actor friends around the country -- "Gang- I have this idea . . ." By September, four teams walked in Washington DC, New York City, Miami and Los Angeles and raised $23,000 in their first year. In 2013, Actors and Artists Unite became the first non-corporate Friends and Family National Team for the Walk to End Alzheimer's. We have teams from Wisconsin to Louisiana; from California to Massachusetts; from Connecticut to Florida and a wonderful team that is based in New York and London, England. As of March of 2020, the Actors & Artists Unite National team has raised over $285,000.
I read the stories of all of our teams - "I lost my grandmother . . . my dad . . . we are at the point of having to put our mom in a facility. She is wandering out of the house and most of the time- she doesn't know us." So many families- so much loss and suffering. AA Unite was built by reaching out to our friends and colleagues around the country via word of mouth and social media. We would hear- "I'm walking in with you in Texas! We just started a team in Tennessee!" Through this team, I have discovered the compassion and strength of the artistic community around the country. Now that we are a national team, it is always so thrilling to hear "Nance I have a friend who is at Oregon Shakes. I have a friend who works at Disney. Do we have a team in Ashland? Do we have a team in Orlando?" and I get to say "We do now!"
I lost my father last summer- he had Dementia. I had promised him- "A cure in our lifetime." Now, I work that much harder, walk that much further to keep my half of that promise- a cure in mine. I was honored and humbled as many members of my team added my dad’s name to their purple flowers to walk in his honor. We walk for our own loved ones and for each other. We walk for anyone who knows how heartbreaking it is to look in the eyes of someone you love and have them not know you- to watch them fade away until they can no longer speak or move. This is Alzheimer's.
I walk because through the commitment and solidarity of this amazing team -- we walk in glory. We walk for a cure. We walk to bring light out of all this darkness. And we walk in hope and strength for a future- that we can all remember.
So, come join us! Come walk with us! Our goal is to have a team in every state of this country! All are welcome! And as we Irish say- Slainte!!"