Why I Walk… Melanie’s Story

On December 12, 2013, my family received the news my 59 year old mother had been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). It didn’t take long to search the internet and figure out how terrible this disease was and how our lives were going to change very quickly. Numbers of people, even the most educated doctors, have not heard of FTD and are not familiar with the signs and symptoms. Much like Alzheimer’s it is difficult to diagnose and can be mistaken for other illnesses or disorders. While the Alzheimer’s Association is easily identified as a resource for those living with and caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia), many people do not realize their services are available to caregivers and those diagnosed with other forms of dementia. Having experienced being a caregiver firsthand, (although my dad did tenfold what I did) most people don’t realize or understand the profound impact the disease has on the person, family, caregivers and even society as a whole.

Alzheimer’s and dementia are grossly understudied, under-researched, underrepresented and dare I say undervalued. For the past 5 years, that is why I’ve been Walking to End Alzheimer’s and the 46.8 million people around the world living with it and other forms of dementia. 2015 was my first year participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and it won’t be the last. I’ve been walking and raising awareness ever since! This year, the walk was virtual but my sister and a few of our friends, who are the biggest supporters, walked laps in the cold rain around the courthouse in Pittsfield. 

While there is no cure for dementia, and it is ultimately fatal, I hope with the work the Alzheimer’s Association is doing and the awareness walk participants are bringing to the disease, there one day will be. By calling attention to the disease, I hope others become familiar with the signs, symptoms and overwhelming statistics. The company I work for, Dot Foods, became a National sponsor in 2015. The founder of Dot Foods was stricken with Alzheimer’s so it hits close to home for many employees. Each year the partnership has grown, as well as the dollars contributed by employees, at a rate of almost 30% year-over-year. Since the campaign began, Dot has been able to contribute over three quarters of a million dollars to the Alzheimer’s Association! 

I am proud to Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

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