Why I Walk… Joanne’s Story

Grandma Attig was always fun to be around and always busy doing something. She had a very bright smile and great laugh that was infectious.  She loved sewing, quilting, reading and was still active outside and mowing the yard with the help of one of her many granddaughters!  I remember when she started “being forgetful” but we all thought it was just part of aging.  A couple years down the road she would be at home and had become very paranoid that someone was out to get her.  Seeing someone you love acting this way and going through that is not easy to deal with.  We didn’t know how to help Grandma and my Grandpa was still caring for her at home and I know it just broke his heart seeing her like that.   She eventually had to go to a nursing home to get the care she needed.

She was there almost 7 years before passing in December 2016.  I remember visiting her when I was home. She couldn’t speak to me but I held her hand and talked to her.  My kids would come with me and would tell her what they had been up to.  I remember the nurses telling me that she lit up when she heard Grandpa’s voice. He would go in every Sunday and visit with her as well. 

This is why I walk.  My family hadn’t dealt with Alzheimer’s before this and didn’t know of all the resources out there to help the patient as well as the family and caretakers.  I think it’s important for people to have resources available and know where they can go to get them.  By walking, everyone involved helps to spread that word and raise awareness.  I have also done my best to raise funds each year to aid in the care and research of the disease.  My kids and family understand the importance as well and all pitch in to help with bake sales, waiting tables and other activities to raise funds for our team each year.

To honor my Grandma Phyllis Attig, I have carried on her quilting tradition and have made a unique and somewhat original quilt for the last 4 years that I raffle off. This year so far, I have raised over $1300 with the quilt.  Each year, some of her fabric is used in it so it has a very special meaning to me.   My family, friends and coworkers have been great supporters of me in all that I have done, which in turn helps spread the word about Alzheimer’s.  I hope that there is a first survivor in my lifetime and that is what I work towards.

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