Why I Walk…Mary’s Story

Mary Fus is a fixture of the Chicago Walk to End Alzheimer’s. She is a repeat Elite Grand Champion—a distinction that comes with raising over $2,500 for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research—and Chair of the Mission Committee. She is the proud captain of team Pou-Pou. As of Thursday, October 14, the team has raised over $35,000 in 2021 alone. 

Mary and her mother.

“As a caregiver for my mother with Alzheimer’s disease, it takes more patience than you can imagine; but it is also an honor to give back to her and care for her when she needs it the most,” says Mary. Every dollar raised through Walk to End Alzheimer’s funds research and support services for families around Illinois. Mary’s family is one such recipient.

“This will be my 9th year walking in honor of my mom,” she says. “What drives me to continue on this journey is experiencing first-hand as a caregiver, how this disease continues to take away my mom, leaving a shell of who she once was. Our roles are reversed now, I take care of her like she took care of me as a child. I still hold on to those memories and was blessed to have a great role model in her.” 

Team Pou-Pou in 2013.

After years of witnessing her mother’s decline, Mary felt compelled to step up and do something to fight against the disease. 

“Nine years ago in 2013, I hastily formed my team and it’s called Pou-Pou and that’s in honor of my mother…known as Pou-Pou Yung to her grandkids and many others.”

Mary with her mother and sisters at the 2021 Walk.

“Our team consists of family and friends who walk not only for her but for the many other relatives and friends that are currently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, as well as in memory of all of our loved ones that have already lost the fight to this thief of a disease.”

Mary and her family attended the in-person Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday, October 9 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. For Mary, participating is her “way of doing something to honor my mother…and to help put an end to this progressive disease, so that others don’t have to experience the loss of a loved one while they are still living.”

Mary and her mother.

The Alzheimer’s Association is incredibly lucky to have a champion like Mary in our midst, and all the other supporters who strengthen the fight to end Alzheimer’s. Beyond chairing the Mission Committee and being one of our top fundraisers, Mary has volunteered in the Alzheimer’s Association office, advocated policy makers in Springfield, been featured in the Reason to Hope program video and launched the “Light the City Purple” initiative, getting major downtown buildings to light up purple to #ENDALZ. Mary was also instrumental in bringing together a partnership between the Alzheimer’s Association and the Chinese American Service League.

A selection of Champions Club incentives.

Mary recently joined us on Facebook Live to share a few easy ways to reach the Champion Club. She continues to motivate her team Pou-Pou to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association. All Illinois Walk to End Alzheimer’s participants will be eligible for incentives for all donations raised through Wednesday, December 1. Find the full list of incredible incentives here

Team Pou-Pou at Soldier Field in 2019 (13 Champions shown here!)

Learn more about Mary’s team here, and check your fundraising status at alz.org.

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