Sowing the seeds of awareness with ALZ Stars

“Working here has humbled me,” shares Randy Hauser of his job at ClarkLindsey retirement community. As horticulturist at the Champaign-Urbana facility, he has seen many residents journey through Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Randy decided to honor the ClarkLindsey residents and raise awareness for the disease by running the 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on team ALZ Stars.

As an outgoing member of the ClarkLindsey team, Randy has gotten to know many residents – especially those who share his love of gardening. Many people are eager to interact with him as he works around the community grounds. “People are drawn to it,” he shares. The opportunity to interact with him was particularly valuable at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when indoor socializing was at a minimum. 

ALZ Star athlete Randy kneels in front of bright yellow, white and pink tulips on a sunny day outside at ClarkLindsey.

Through his work, Randy met many individuals impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Some started in the independent living setting, then slowly needed around-the-clock support in the memory care center. The speed at which the disease progressed shocked him. “I was amazed at how fast those stages can happen,” he says. 

Randy hosts a number of programs for memory care residents at ClarkLindsey, including “Planting the Seeds.” He has residents scatter zinnia seeds, then watch as the bright blossoms grow over time. For Randy, if that program can bring even a bit of light and color to the memory care center, his job has been worth it. 

Randy plans to raise awareness and funds for the Alzheimer’s Association by running the 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on team ALZ Stars. His employer ClarkLindsey is an annual sponsor of Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Champaign/Urbana, and Randy is using his love of running to further support the fight against the disease.

“I call myself a ‘hack runner,’” Randy says jokingly. “Most people don’t expect me to have run around the block, let alone a marathon.” He says if he can run long-distance, anyone can run long-distance.

Randy began running on a smaller scale, starting with 5K races. He eventually progressed past 10Ks and half marathons to his first full marathon in 2012. He hopes to run twenty marathons total and is already well on his way. This year’s Chicago Marathon will be his twelfth 26.2 mile race — his fifth one in Chicago. 

“I’m not a running purist,” Randy says. He isn’t interested in finishing times or placing first. Instead, running is meditative for him. It’s also a way of “being with” his dad, who he lost suddenly to a heart attack a decade ago. 

This is Randy’s first year running with a team in the marathon’s Charity Program. “I wanted to make it about something bigger than me,” he shares. “I’m 58, very healthy and very lucky…I’m excited for my little thing to be part of a big thing.” Experienced and novice athletes alike run with team ALZ Stars. They raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Alzheimer’s care, support and research every year. 

Randy enjoys the Chicago Marathon because of the excitement and support from the crowd. Spectators typically gather along the entire route, cheering runners and offering words of encouragement. While the crowds cheer him on, Randy also wants to offer them something: he wants people to see his ALZ Stars singlet and inquire about the Alzheimer’s Association. He hopes people will visit alz.org to learn more about the Alzheimer’s crisis in America. Hopefully, some attendees will find the resources and support they need because of him.

Randy recently completed a half marathon in Champaign/Urbana to kickstart his marathon training. He continues long runs to prepare for the 26.2 miles in Chicago on October 9. He plans to run future marathons as part of the ALZ Stars team. With every step he takes, Randy is moving us towards our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.

Limited entries for ALZ Stars are still available. Visit act.alz.org/alzstars2022 to sign-up.

Illinois Board Member receives 2022 Rita Hayworth Gala Philanthropy Award

Dani (R) with Alzheimer’s Association CEO Harry Johns.

We are thrilled to congratulate Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter Board Member Dani Jachino on her 2022 Rita Hayworth Gala Philanthropy Award. Dani is a tireless and passionate leader in the fight to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. From advocating for a more dementia friendly state to being a repeat Walk to End Alzheimer’s Elite Grand Champion, Dani is an invaluable part of our organization.

“My Mother lived the last year and a half of her life in a dementia unit,” Dani shares on her Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraising page. “My Dad’s brother and sister died of Alzheimer’s, as did another aunt and uncle. Friends’ parents died of the disease. Friend’s spouses have the disease. I do not want it and I do not want you to have it either.

The 2022 Chicago Rita Hayworth Gala was held on Saturday, April 23 to raise funds for care, support, research and advocacy. The event was founded by Princess Yasmin Aga Khan in honor of her mother, Rita Hayworth, who died as a result of Alzheimer’s disease. The first Rita Hayworth Gala was held in New York in 1984 and expanded to Chicago in 1987.

I am deeply honored to receive the Philanthropy Award. However, it’s not the end of the journey,” Dani says. “There is much more to do so we fulfill our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s and other dementia – for future generations.”

Dani accepts her award at the Rita Hayworth Gala.

Dani first got involved with the Alzheimer’s Association after placing her mother in a memory care facility. Dani attended a support group where she connected with others facing similar challenges. She deepened her involvement by becoming co-facilitator of the support group, chairing four Chicago Walks to End Alzheimer’s, becoming a member of the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement Leadership Society and joining the Illinois Chapter Board of Directors fifteen years ago.

This will be Dani’s final year on the Illinois Chapter Board of Directors, but her impact in the fight to end Alzheimer’s will continue to be felt. We thank Dani for the countless ways she strengthens our mission and brings hope to families facing the disease across Illinois and the nation.

Out of the Heartache of Alzheimer’s, Passion Leads to a Legacy

My name is David Myers, and my wife Cheryl was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2012 at the age of 47.  Being diagnosed at such a young age creates many issues that I was not prepared for.  We have two children who were 20 and 17 when Cheryl was diagnosed and were at the age where they were just starting to enjoy hanging out with their mother.  Our family and friends rallied around us and supported us through her Alzheimer’s journey, trying to fill the void. 

If you had told me the kinds of things I’d have to do for her, I would have said I couldn’t do it. But I did do them, and I overcame things that I would’ve struggled to do for anyone else. After 32 years, I truly believe that there was nothing I wouldn’t do for her.

It takes an emotional toll.  But there is a financial toll as well.  There are many things I worried about financially.  We prepared for the worst and hoped for the best.  

We were able to keep Cheryl at home throughout her journey by utilizing in-home care.  We received assistance from the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services, which came in and evaluated our situation.  This service is available for people under the age of 60 that receive a dementia diagnosis.

What happened to us wasn’t something you’d expect.  No one would expect it.  But there are many unexpected things that happen in life.  I would encourage others to get their financial affairs in order before there’s ever a need.

I was afraid to talk to anybody about my finances for fear that they would say to me “what were you thinking?”  I didn’t want anyone to tell me I should have done better.  Luckily, we had life insurance, and after Cheryl passed away, I needed help in making sure that money was there for my kids.  

I did not know anything about finances, so I finally bit the bullet and scheduled an appointment with a financial advisor, and we had a conversation about priorities, passions, and future plans.  We really didn’t talk about money until the end just so they knew what I had.  They gave me things to think about that I had never contemplated, like when you take social security and things like that.  

I am now better prepared for my future, and I have options I never knew were possible.  But it’s not just about finances, it’s about a cause I believe in and spend an abundance of my time and efforts giving to the Alzheimer’s Association for the work they do and the desire I have to walk alongside others on this journey we call Alzheimer’s.

I have had many roles with the Association as a volunteer, organizer, and a leader.  From organizing the   Cheryl’s Holy Walkamolies Alzheimer’s Walk Team (follow link for information on the walk or to donate), to providing educational webinars and educational programs to groups that want to know more. 

I even helped start a support group just for men that are taking care of their wives. I’ve found only men going through similar circumstances understand, and it’s easier to open up and share.  This all led to being asked to join the Illinois Board of Directors for the Association to assist with building Alzheimer’s support down state.  In this role, I’m committed to making a difference in helping others with the best way to care for those affected by this disease.  

A very personal part of my mission in fighting Alzheimer’s was born out of a personal experience my wife and I shared together.   Cheryl and I got our first motorcycle as a married couple right after she was diagnosed and spent many hours together just riding and enjoying our time even after she couldn’t communicate.  Because that was something we enjoyed, I started the “We’re Alz Ridin For a Cure” Motorcycle ride to raise support and awareness for the disease.  July 23 we are adding a car show to the ride and will be starting and ending at BloNo Pizza in Bloomington, Il.  If you ride, or just like cars, trucks and motorcycles, please come out and support us.  We will have silent auctions, pizza, and the bar will be open.

 My number one goal is to raise money and awareness for the support of those living with Alzheimer’s and all the money raised stays here in central Illinois.

If you have questions or need assistance, please call 800-272-3900 anytime and someone will help you.  Seriously, these phones are manned 24 hours, 365 days a year.  Also, if you would rather check out the Alzheimer’s website, you can go to ALZ.org.  And finally, If you would like to talk about any of the above, please reach out to me at davem9@frontier.com.

This article first appeared on McBeath Financial Group’s website. Read the full article here.

Reason to Hope returns to Chicago, breaks fundraising record

“How do I say to my kids, ‘Everything is going to be okay’…I don’t know that we can 100% say that yet, so we have to keep taking action,” shared Bryan Adamick. He joined hundreds of Alzheimer’s Association supporters as they took action together on behalf of families across Illinois at Reason to Hope

Event Co-Chairs Jennifer Keeney & Jennifer Convery

Nearly 300 guests gathered for Reason to Hope on Thursday, April 7 at the Mid-America Club in Chicago to change the path of Alzheimer’s disease. The annual event, co-chaired by Jennifer Keeney and Jennifer Convery, featured a powerful, one-hour program honoring those living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. It was the first time the event was held in-person since 2019.

Paul Lisnek

This year’s event was emceed by Paul Lisnek (WGN-TV Political Analyst; Anchor of WGN-TV Political Report) and included a number of guest speakers. Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter Executive Director Delia Jervier and Board Chair Aimee Nolan provided an update on the organization. They presented a check to researcher Xiaoran Liu, Ph.D., M.Sc. FAHA (Assistant Professor, Rush University Medical Center) for her recently awarded Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant

From left: Delia Jervier, Xiaoran Liu, Aimee Nolan

Two special guest speakers shared their stories during the impactful program. Bryan Adamick, a Chicago musician raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association, shared how Alzheimer’s touches his past, present and future. Miguel Gamez, who is living with Alzheimer’s disease, brought guests to their feet with his heartfelt remarks.  

“At first, I wasn’t sure how to process what I was told,” Miguel shared. “Then I told my wife: I’m going to fight, and do everything that I can to make the most of the life I do have left.”

Guests at Reason to Hope

Thanks to the generosity of attendees and sponsors, the event raised a record-breaking $250,000 for Alzheimer’s care, support and research–but our work is just beginning. All donations made through Tuesday, May 31 will be matched up to $60,000 thanks to the transformative support of the James J. and Jacqualine A. McDonough Foundation and the Make It Better Media Group. Every gift supports those affected by the disease today while funding critical research for a cure tomorrow. Please consider donating to Reason to Hope to help families like Bryan’s and Miguel’s.

Miguel closed his remarks by sharing, “My reason for hope is my family. I know God still has me around for a reason, and I’m going to give him thanks every day that I get to spend with them. I have beautiful memories this far, and have faith that I still have many more to create.”

Guests at Reason to Hope

Donate to Reason to Hope at ReasonToHope22.givesmart.com. Click here to watch a recording of the event.

Are you interested in becoming a Table Host or sponsor at next year’s event? Please contact kmlane@alz.org or click here to learn more. 

Reason to Hope Sponsors are at the forefront of the fight to end Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association is proud to recognize the following Gold Sponsors for making this event possible: Griffith Foods and Perfect Plastic Printing. Additional support is provided by Silver Sponsors: Amsive, Bank of America Private Bank, GE Healthcare, Horizon Wealth Management, Ingredion, Katten, Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC, Monarch Landing, Sedgebrook and The Clare and Bronze Sponsors: Dykema, Hagerty Consulting, Inc. and Mindsight.

Illinois Legislature Passes First-In-The-Nation Dementia Training For EMTs

For More Information
Contact: Nancy Rainwater
VP, Communications
847.324.0373
nrainwater @ alz.org

Springfield, IL, April 4, 2022 – Last week, after a unanimous Senate vote, the Illinois legislature passed House Bill 4388, an initiative of the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter to ensure that all emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics receive regular dementia training.  This first-in-the-nation training requirement will help paramedics recognize the signs and symptoms of dementia as well as be able to effectively communicate with people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

“I’m proud that Illinois is taking this important step to protect one of our most vulnerable populations – those living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” said State Senator Celina Villanueva, the Senate sponsor of House Bill 4388. “Ensuring our medical professionals know how to approach these situations and appropriately care for these individuals will lead to better health outcomes.”

“The fight to end Alzheimer’s is personal for me. I watched my grandfather, a former Navy pilot and prosecutor, succumb to this disease, and I know how important it is to recognize the symptoms of someone suffering,” said State Representative Margaret Croke, the House sponsor of the legislation.  “This bill trains paramedics to understand the signs and communicate effectively to ensure better experiences for patients in already stressful situations.”

House Bill 4388 requires that EMTs and paramedics dedicate one (1) hour of their existing training requirements prior to relicensure to education on recognizing signs and symptoms of dementia, the care and treatment of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, as well as effective communication strategies with this vulnerable population. 

“Once again, Illinois is leading the nation in becoming a dementia-capable state, providing better care for people with Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.” said Delia Jervier, Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter Executive Director.  “This training is especially critical because paramedics are on the front lines when it comes to protecting those living with dementia and as the size of the U.S. population age 65 and older continues to grow, so will the number and proportion of Americans with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.” According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2022 Facts and Figures report released in mid-March the number of Illinois residents with Alzheimer’s is expected to increase 13% by 2025.

The chief sponsors of House Bill 4388 were Senator Celina Villanueva  and Representative Margaret Croke.  The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities in both chambers – the Illinois Senate on a vote of 53-0-0 and the Illinois House on a vote of 98-11-2.  It now heads to Governor Pritzker’s desk for his signature.

About the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter: The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s research, care and support.  Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.  Since 1980, the Chapter has provided reliable information and care consultation; created supportive services for families; increased funding for dementia research; and influenced public policy changes.