I'm running in the ING New York City Marathon to help reclaim the future for millions. By joining team Athletes to End Alzheimer's, I'm committed to raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer research, care and support
This year marks my fourth year running for the Alzheimers Association .
As many of you are aware , my mom was diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s close to six years ago. She hosted Christmas Eve dinner every year since as long as I can recall. My families along with my two brothers gathered at my folk’s house each year. Including our kids and their spouses we total over 20! She does all the preparing. Being of Italian decent that includes a variety of pasta and seafood dishes. 2007 Christmas Eve preparation became increasingly difficult as she just couldn’t keep up with all that was required. She became very frustrated and depressed. That is when we took her for tests and she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She went from an incredibly smart and independent senior to one that has difficultly doing and recalling the simplest day to day activities. She was an avid member of America Online until the age of 80 sending emails daily to her 9 grandchildren who were off at college. She would check the results of my NYRR’s races online and before I made it home would call me on my cell to congratulate me on my time!
It was especially difficult for my Dad who was 88 years old , since she literally did everything for him from “soup to nuts”: the check book, the savings accounts, the birthday gifts, retirement planning, cooking, housecleaning, you name it she did it. On May 9th, 2011 my Dad passed away. She was never able to fully grieve the passing of her life partner of 67 years (I suppose it is a matter of opinion if that was a positive or not) Although her condition worsened considerably after his passing.
That’s where my story changed, from May ’11 – Feb ’12 my brother and I become her primary caretaker on weekends. As we at first were only able to find 24/5 (Mon AM– Sat AM) care for her . He stayed with her on Saturday’s, I on Sunday’s (We now have 24/7 care for her). Each week for 24 hours I saw how Alz affects a person. For a while at about at time she insisted that she has to go “home” to help her mother cook dinner, to a point where we needed to convince her she is home. She was reverting to her early adult years when her and her sister (who also is afflicted with this awful illness) helped my Grandmother prepare dinner for her three siblings as my Grandmother was a young widow at the age of 49. Other times I would awaken in the middle of the night to find her fully dressed as she has no understanding the time of day . While it was challenging dealing with the Alz related symptoms I appreciated the time we spent, just her and I . When I took off for work in NJ each I had a good sense that I was in some way paying her back for all the love and support she and my dad provided to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren over the years She continues to amaze me with her incredible positive attitude and sense of humor. Although the sickness is slowly eroding her personality and now there are times when she is not herself. I believe the medication she is on has helped. While there is no cure it has slowed the process.
That is my connection to Alz and why I’m involved with the team. I can see the benefits that research has provided and how much the support services assist families in a similar situation as mine Another reason I run for ALZ is to have the honor to be associated with such an amazing group of people from the runners to the coaches and support team !