Longtime Volunteer from San Jose Shares Her Story

Erica Perez-Chavez is a stay-at-home mother of three from San Jose. She was raised by her great grandparents Maria and Manuel. Erica was six months pregnant when she lost her great grandmother to Alzheimer’s in 2004. She knew nothing about the disease other than the fact that it took the only mother she’d ever known.

What was the impact of Alzheimer’s on your family?

My great grandma Maria was the head of our family. She was the rock. For her to be in this state, brought down to the way this disease brings you, was something we had never seen. She was always a bright and strong spirit, always in charge. This disease showed us a side of her we had never seen, and it killed us to see her suffer.

What made you volunteer for the San Jose Walk to End Alzheimer’s?

I had seen a commercial for the Walk and I thought “Wow this is a way for me to heal and to honor her”. On my family’s first Walk, I saw a committee opportunity and signed up. Throughout the years, it has become a great part of my life.

erica-photo1What has your experience been so far as a long time volunteer?

As a long time volunteer I have had the best experience. I’ve made great friends, they have become like family, and we share the same goal … a world without Alzheimer’s. I’ve helped put together a few walks, collected many in-kind donations and raised lots of funds, and to me that is so worth it. I feel it’s a way to honor my mama. If I can, in any small way, help a family not have to go through what our family had to endure, then it has all been worth it.

What would you say to others who haven’t joined the cause yet?

I’d say if you have a personal connection to the disease, this is a great way to heal and channel that pain into helping others, as well as raising funds for awareness and research. It’s helped my family tremendously and allowed us to give back.