My Grandpa Joe Coopersmith passed away 20 years ago from Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a devastating illness on both the one with it, but especially those watching the slow mental- and eventually physical- decline. The memories of his suffering seem like yesterday.
20 years down the road much has changed, but much has not. There is more general awareness around the disease, the public and private sector has committed an immense amount of funding to research and facilities catering to those with it have evolved immensely. Newer therapeutics to slow the progression are used and much more science is known about the disease, but there is no cure. It’s always a death sentence.
Right now, many with dementia are home with loved ones or stuck in facilities. While they may not realize what’s going on around them they’re probably not getting the visitors they have come to expect and benefit from.
I grew up close to my grandpa. Watching his decline impacted and inspired me. In my early 20’s while he was still suffering and more so after he passed to not only learn more about the disease, but get involved and do what I could. I used to say it was a gift to me. My involvement opened my eyes and changed me. I learned the power, the “rush” if you will, of volunteering and giving back. I took on leadership roles which I taught me many invaluable lessons that have helped me in life and my career. It even lead me to working in the not for profit sector for about 4 years.
It’s my way of honoring his memory, the others that have passed and are suffering from it, as well as “paying back” for all I learned from my involvement. I’ve participated in nearly every Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s in New York City and the Hudson Valley, the NYC 5 borough bike ride, helped lead social events and more to raise money for research and services offered by the Alzheimer’s Association since my involvement began. I’ve also done advocacy work in NY and Washington DC.
The walk will not be the same this year, but I’m going to do my part. I’m committing to raising more money this year than I have ever before (for one event) in honor of my 20 years of involvement and anniversary of his passing. My goal is at least $5,000. Hopefully I can raise a little more awareness as well.