Hi! My name is Christine Hess and I am the Walk Manger for the Cedar Valley, North East Iowa and Dubuque communities. Today I want to share my why with you. It’s always impactful to hear why someone has a passion for what they do and I hope this inspires you to begin your team for the 2022 walk.
Growing up I spent a lot of Saturdays over at my grandparent’s house. My grandpa Emkes loved being a grandpa and it showed. He would take my sister and I on long bike rides, always ending with ice cream. He would get down on the floor and play checkers with us. In 5th grade I wrote a paper about how he was my hero. As I became a teen he got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It was hard but my family joined together and supported him through it. During college I would come back to visit him and my grandma. I enjoyed those visits and all the time we spent together. I would bring different activities or things to try with him. He loved food. His favorite restaurant was Texas Roadhouse and I brought him a tbone steak to their assisted living apartment one time. He was so surprised. Many times we would eat together at the dining room at the Western Home and we’d be laughing up a storm gaining the attention of the quieter residents. During the holidays sometimes my dad and his brother would play pool with my grandpa. It was so neat to watch him get back in his element when he played. He was always such a sweet and go with the flow guy. I remember taking photos with him and he did the duck face before it was cool. He passed away March of 2020. He will be forever missed and I’m so grateful for the time I got to spend with him. He taught more than I can explain, he taught me unconditional love, how to have fun regardless of your age, and was always encouraging about whatever I was pursuing.
In college I worked as a CNA which gave me an opportunity to meet a lot of patients with dementia. During college I studied therapeutic recreation, and after graduating I worked as an activity director for three years. During that time I got to meet and support a lot of families with a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Not only is my passion due to my grandfather but also for all the residents I helped take care of. Those little moments were the best. Like when my residents sang along to music I played, beamed with pride after painting a beautiful Bob Ross landscape with water, or began to remember my dog Zelda’s name as she wagged her tail down the hall to greet them, or just the simple moments of laughter we shared during a craft or another activity.
This is much more than just a job or just a cause to raise money for. I want to see a world without dementia and Alzheimer’s. I want to find a cure. I hope that the reason I leave this job is because our fight has been won and there is a cure for this disease. This disease takes away the memories of our loved ones which makes them become someone different way too fast. I miss my grandpa. I cherish the memories I have with him and the residents I cared for.
Please join me in the fight to End Alz in 2022!
Thank you for helping advance Alzheimer's support, care and research.
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