Tennis Tribute for Milly

Sarah and her mother, Milly O’Brien.

Sarah O’Brien Boyd will lace up her sneakers and hit the tennis court on Saturday, June 19 to participate in The Longest Day. She will play tennis from sunrise to sunset in Skokie, Illinois, in honor of her mother, Milly O’Brien. 

Milly passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. She was an extremely active person and was passionate about tennis for almost forty years. Sarah will honor her mother’s legacy this weekend by playing the sport she loved. Sarah’s friends and family will join her on the court to keep her busy all day.

Sarah is the youngest of seven children and grew up in Northern New Jersey. While her siblings on the East Coast won’t be able to cheer her on in-person, they contributed significantly to her fundraising. They also helped Sarah brainstorm some of Milly’s famous expressions which Sarah used as names for her sign up slots. Sarah shared, “When I came up with the idea of using my Mom’s expressions as time slots for my SignUpGenius, they helped me remember many of them. It was right around Mother’s Day and the 5 year anniversary of my Mom’s passing, so I think it was our way of paying tribute to her.” Her sayings included, “Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear,” and “Only boring people are bored.” Reminiscing about their mother’s songs and sayings made Sarah and her siblings laugh, providing a moment of levity on an otherwise somber anniversary. 

Sarah’s husband and children are also supporting her Longest Day activity. Her son Cameron will host his own all-day sporting event: he plans to play golf from sunrise to sunset one day next week. Sarah’s younger sons and husband plan to join her during one of her tennis slots on Saturday and cheer her on from the sidelines throughout the day. Relatives on both sides of their family have passed from Alzheimer’s and dementia, and some are living with it today.

“Obviously, there are so many needy causes out there and people tend to get involved when a disease affects them personally,” says Sarah. “So I think the more we can educate people about what happens to Alzheimer’s patients and their families, the more people will want to get involved and raise funds to fight the disease.”

Sarah’s fundraising is in full swing: she hasn’t gotten to the tennis court yet, but she already reached the elite Solstice Champion status. She started collecting donations early and raised over $11,000 for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. As Milly would say, “The early bird catches the worm.” 

Support Sarah’s The Longest Day fundraiser here, and learn more at alz.org/TheLongestDay.

The Longest Day is a fundraising event focused around the summer solstice—June 20—that strives to advance the care, support, and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. People from around the world will choose a fundraising activity of their choice to fight against Alzheimer’s. 

An Intimate Conversation with Artist Susanne Dotson: “Can You Tell Me Who I Am.”

The Final Roses by Susanne Dotson

Join Illinois Women Conquer ALZ on Wednesday, May 26th at 5:00 PM CST for an incredible event with artist Susanne Dotson. Hear Susanne’s personal story of her mother’s journey with dementia as shown through her artwork. Victoria Raymont, the Chair of the Illinois Chapter Board of Directors, will be in conversation with Susanne during the event. Proceeds from select artwork sales will go towards supporting the Alzheimer’s Association.

Susanne’s mother, Harriet Keller Wise, was an artist. Susanne grew up with a 48 box of crayons and unlined paper always around the house. She always loved making art, and would later pursue it as a career. Susanne spent ten years working towards an undergraduate BFA degree, worked 40 years in the business sector, and attended Columbus College of Art & Design to earn her MFA after retiring. Her mother loved to critique and engage in art conversation with Susanne. Her mother was proud of Susanne’s path to earn her degrees.

Join us to learn about Susanne’s mother’s journey with dementia, and how art provided the perfect medium to share her story.

To RSVP for An Intimate Conversation with Artist Susanne Dotson: “Can You Tell Me Who I Am,” click here.

Courtney Windisch: How Alzheimer’s Touched My Life

Back in 2003, my grandpa, Ralph, had to have a procedure to remove a tumor from his brain. Shortly after that, he started to forget things such as his address, where he was going, and he would start repeating the same stories. Initially, they thought this was a result of the procedure, but it was quickly diagnosed as the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. This news shook up our family. When talking more to my family about it, my dad and his brothers spoke about how their grandma, Ralph’s mother, had the same symptoms of the disease. At that time, Alzheimer’s was not as commonly diagnosed, so she was diagnosed with being senile. After a few years, my family chose to move my grandpa into a home not too far from my grandma. Since I was so young when he was diagnosed, a lot of my memories were in that home visiting him. Even at the age of ten, knowing that this is a genetic disease, I knew I wanted to work towards a cure for my family and my future.

Growing up, I heard all of the stories about how great my grandpa was. He was well known on the railroad, and even until this day, when I meet someone who works for the railroad, I still get, “Are you related to Ralph Windisch?!” Even though I had always heard about how much of a big shot he was, he was still always just the person who would sneak me all his cucumbers from his salad plate at dinners because he knew they were my favorite. Before he was ever grandpa, he was just a cool kid from St. Paul, Minnesota, who loved his motorcycle club and fell in love with my grandma shortly after she left the convent. They went on to be married for the rest of their lives and have five boys.

I am originally from the suburbs of Chicago, but I now live in Los Angeles. During the last Los Angeles Marathon, I went down my street to watch and cheer on the runners. At that moment, I told myself that I would eventually work up the courage to run one myself. During the pandemic, I got into running as a form of therapy and also a reason to get out of the house. I then decided that it was finally time to run that marathon, and I wanted to do it back home. I knew that I wanted to run through a charity team, and there was no question that ALZ Stars was the choice for me. Along with wanting to run for my grandpa’s legacy and the future of my family, I recently had genetic testing done. I found out that I have multiple genetic markers for Alzheimer’s. I am only 28 years old, so I am hopeful that with all of the amazing work and with the research I have access to, things will be better in the future.

This disease does not just affect those who have it, but all of their loved ones as well. It is a terrible disease that slowly changes and takes away the people you love most. I encourage everyone to learn about Alzheimer’s disease and spread awareness so we can move forward in finding a cure.

Donate to Courtney’s ALZ Stars fundraising page HERE and help her make a difference.
To learn more about ALZ Stars and join the team, click HERE.

Jeremy Greenberg: Life is Better in Motion

Story by Jeremy Greenberg

My Grandma is one of the smartest, strongest, and most caring people that I know. She has been battling Alzheimer’s disease for years and is now in the later stages of the disease.

Growing up, I would frequently tell her that she was a tank because I never saw anything stop her from where she was going. She has always displayed so much strength.

When I was young, my grandma showed her strength through daily exercise. She would begin at 3:30 or 4 A.M. with her strength exercises, and then go to the park near her home to power-walk. This daily exercise would take her a couple of hours. When my sisters and I stayed at her house, she would be back well before we even got out of bed.

Many years ago, her initial progression with Alzheimer’s started with her being confused about what was going on. Over time, the disease has taken more and more of her abilities. While that has gone on, her ongoing strength fighting Alzheimer’s is remarkable. However, it is still so hard for everyone who knows and loves her.

Watching my Grandma fight the disease has shown me that there are many ways to be strong, and there are many ways to be a resource to the people around you.

This year, I am running my 9th marathon to honor my Grandma’s ongoing strength. I was drawn to join the ALZ Stars Bank of America Chicago Marathon team again in 2021 because I learned from my Grandma the love of exercise and that life is better in motion.

I hope others decide to fight the disease by raising awareness and funds to advance the care, support, and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association®. By contributing to fight Alzheimer’s, we are helping more than 5 million people currently going through the disease and 16 million expected by 2050, and the loved ones closest to them.

For those who have not experienced Alzheimer’s firsthand, I’d like to ask for empathy towards people you may encounter who are going through the disease. I have learned that empathy can go a long way. It is important to meet people where they are, and remove expectations.

I hope more and more people can come together to continue the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

Donate to Jeremy’s ALZ Stars fundraising page HERE and help him make a difference.
To learn more about ALZ Stars and join the team, click HERE.

Training for APS Release

April 27, 2021

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

Pritzker signs legislation requiring more dementia training for APS workers

Chicago, IL, April 27, 2021 – Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 158, which includes a vital provision that is an initiative of the Alzheimer’s Association and requires all Adult Protective Services workers and contractors to take 2 hours of dementia training annually. Subjects covered in the training include an overview of dementia, safety risks, communication and understanding behaviors. 

Adult Protective Services (APS) plays a critical role on the front lines of preventing abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of adults age 60 or older and adults age 18-59 with disabilities. Many of these adults are impacted by Alzheimer’s and related dementias. It is critical that APS caseworkers receive robust, evidence-based dementia training on a regular basis to ensure they are adequately able to serve and protect this population. “This law ensures APS workers will have the training they need to effectively serve those living with a dementia and we are grateful to the General Assembly and Governor for prioritizing and this initiative” stated Jen Belkov, Vice President of Public Policy for the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter.

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. 

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