I'm honored to participate in my 19th Walk to End Alzheimer's (Memory Walk) in memory of my Dad, Julius Daniel Benton, Jr. He left us at the age of 68 on November 20, 2008, after fighting Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD) for 16 years. And he fought hard. He was expected to live 3-5 years after his diagnosis in 1997, but he lived for 11 more. He was a husband, father, grandfather, and friend. He designed aircraft carriers; he was a professional trumpet player; sang in the church choir and was a deacon at Union Baptist Church. He was an avid traveler, mainly by car or by motorhome. Only MY DAD would drive from Virginia all the way to Santa Barbara to bring me a spare car when mine broke down -- because he never wanted me to be stranded. :) He never met a stranger. He was loved by everyone who met him; he had an incredible sense of humor. And he was the coolest Dad of all because he loved to play music LOUDLY!! He took me to Blues Alley Jazz Club in Georgetown for the first time when I was only in 8th grade to sit right in front of Maynard Ferguson's trumpet bell! "If you don't sit right in front of him, it's not worth going!" he would say. Coolest Dad EVER.
FTLD stripped Dad of his ability to speak, walk, move, feed himself, travel, play his trumpet... but it never stripped him of his ability to LOVE. Although many dementias can cause a person to forget who their loved-ones are, Dad knew who we were until he took his last breath at 1:23 AM on November 20. He couldn't speak for the last three years of his life, but the smile on his face and the love in his eyes when we'd walk into his room spoke volumes.
I am incredibly blessed and proud to be the daughter of Julius "Buddy" Benton. Gone too soon but never EVER forgotten. By the way he lived his life, he taught me that through even the toughest of times and living with the most horrible disease, never lose your faith and love for life and family.
I hope you will help me to honor my Dad by supporting me in this year's Walk to End Alzheimer's. I will walk on Saturday, October 5, in Gloucester VA. I walk in memory of Dad, Aunt Jack, Aunt Ginny; and in honor of my dear friend Don Talbott, Gloucester High School Class of '83, who is living with Alzheimer's and continuing to fight the disease with heart and humor. Love you, Don!
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Thanks so much and God bless you.
Thank you for helping us advance Alzheimer's support, care and research!
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