SPOTLIGHT: Melissa Burnett
I only know my Grandma Anne by photographs of us together when I was 2 and she was around 50. Shortly after those photos, she quickly was overtaken by Alzheimer’s. She was a very extreme case where she didn’t speak, make movements, or acknowledge anyone around her. I remember being 8 years old, driving on a road trip to visit my Grandfather and we were stopping by to see my Grandmother in the Nursing Home. We arrived at the Nursing home and remember being so nervous. WE walk into my Grandmother’s room, my dad had to introduce himself to his own mother as if he had never met her before. “Mom, this is your son, How are you?” he would say. Then he would gently place his hand on each of his children’s backs and push us to her bed side. He would continue the introductions with each of his children, “Mom, this is Melissa, your granddaughter”. And my grandmother was just lying there, staring up to Heaven, not saying a word, not making a sound, not doing anything. This disease had taken over her as if she was in a shell and she just couldn’t get out. She lived like this for many years and it wasn’t until I was about 14 that the disease finally let her go. I remember that day-crying, and seeing my dad cry for the first time. I knew they were tears of sadness for losing his mother, but also joy as he knew she would finally be at peace and would be able to finally be Anne again.
I originally began volunteering for the Alzheimer’s association because I wanted to give my time to help find a cure for this disease. I now volunteer for the Team Run 2 Remember, because I find that a cause like this needs to be spread across every avenue and every platform. Running for me helps “cure” all my pain and I hope that running can do the same to this disease.