The Rally to Remember: “If the love of your life is hit with this insidious disease, you cannot stand by and do nothing”

The Rally to Remember started with a poignant live rendition of Imagine by John Lennon that set a somber but hopeful tone for the rest of the evening.

Local Washington, D.C. CBS anchor JC Hayward took the stage to emcee the Rally once again put the Forum and Alzheimer’s Association advocacy into perspective for the room.

“For a moment let us just imagine”¦ a world without Alzheimer’s disease; imagine that this is not just an issue, but a movement unified, demanding change,” she said. “Today we have gathered here because we want to move from imagining these things to actually living them.”

Hayward is no stranger to this disease. About 15 years ago she did a series of special reports on Alzheimer’s disease. Little did she know that her mother would be stricken with the disease. It was an experience that spurred her to action.

“We’re more than dreamers, we’re actually doers. We are living proof that a common purpose can and will create change,” she said. “Today we stand with that common purpose to make AD a national priority.”

She then introduced three different Forum attendees.

The first, Arkansas resident Guy Dallas told a story about going to a birthday party at the age of 14 and meeting a pretty blond girl who he walked home. He was instantly smitten and ended up marrying her just seven years later. Married now for 56 years, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s eight years ago; Guy is her sole caregiver.

“If the love of your life is hit with this insidious disease, you cannot stand by and do nothing,” he said. He is a key part of the advocacy efforts in the state of Arkansas and serves as an ambassador to his local Congressman.

Next, Gee Gerke, a volunteer advocate from Maryland took the stage to tell the story about her parents who survived much hardship in Korea, came to the U.S. and lived the American dream. Her father has Alzheimer’s disease. She challenged the advocates in the room to ask one more person to join this cause so that the movement would continue to grow. She talked about how her father has retained his positive disposition even through Alzheimer’s and said she tries to live by his philosophy that even out of bad things come good.

Former Congressman Dennis Moore with wife Stephanie

Finally, former Kansas Congressman Dennis Moore and his wife Stephanie Moore took to the stage. Moore served in Congress from 1999 to 2011. The room fell silent when he announced that he was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s just a couple of months ago. He is here at the Forum with his wife because they made a choice. “We knew we could not be silent,” he said.

Theses volunteers were representative of the advocates in the room – spouses, family members, friends, health advocates and people with dementia who have all chosen to speak up on behalf of the Alzheimer’s cause.

The room recognized and celebrated, closing the Rally with 700 glow sticks raised high, waving in the air in support of the movement.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow, when Forum attendees will hear from several notable keynote speakers including Kathleen Sebelious, secretary of Health and Human Services. Follow more about the Forum at www.alz.org/forum.

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3 Responses

  1. Harry says:

    The love of my life was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s 5 years ago at age 47. Her health has deteriorated significantly since then although she is still very beautiful and youthful looking. We have been to many doctors arounf the world but of course no cure or help, just more medication to test. I agree that we need much more funding to accelerate the finding of a cure but I think the public perceives this terrible disease as an “older persons disease” and needs to be educated and informed that it is not. Someone is diagnosed with this every 59 seconds in this country and more and more younger. I think we need more visual and even shock marketing to bring awareness. Because when you see my wife, you would be shocked that someone so healthy and beautiful could be stricken with this. i would be willing to participate in something like this if anyone has some ideas. Thanks – Harry

    • Gee Gerke says:

      Harry – I am so sorry to hear about your wife. I was one of the speakers at the Rally to Remember. I agree with you that we need more awareness and research for Alzheimer’s disease. It would be wonderful if you joined the movement. I am not sure where you live, but you can contact your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter and they can help you find opportunities to contribute to the cause. Your story is worth sharing. http://www.alz.org. All the best, Gee

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