Why I Walk: Karenna’s Story

Karenna Wright is a volunteer for the Humboldt County Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and a member of the Humboldt Senior Resource Center’s Alz Steppers team. Through our local nonprofit partner program, the Humboldt Senior Resource Center will get up to 60% of Walk funds raised back to invest in their local Adult Day Health and Alzheimer’s services. Read Karenna’s story below.

Karenna&AlanMy husband Alan was diagnosed with dementia nine months after we were married. I was 53 years old, he was 61. Before the end of our sixth year together, in July 2011, he had passed.

I am wildly grateful for having had Alan in my life. But it still breaks my heart there was no cure or relief for him, that he had to go through the confusion, agony, and torture of this disease with no hope but death, that I lost the love of my life to an illness with no cure.

Since losing him, I’ve been writing and publishing articles and essays about our experience with dementia, shining the light on the insights I gained and what I learned, in hopes of helping others in similar caregiving situations. But that isn’t enough.

Last fall, a flash fiction piece I wrote called The Grapes of Dementia was published in one of our local papers. Since it was about dementia, one of the local employees who works for the Humboldt County Senior Resource Center, Myriah Busch, took notice and googled me, came across my blog, and contacted me from that site and recruited me to be part of the Dementia Care Coalition (DCC), which is involved in all things dementia related, including the Walk. Of course I was interested in helping and am on the local Walk’s Mission Committee.

Since I’m rather new to the area, having moved from Colorado almost two years ago now, I’m delighted to have been pulled in to volunteer. All of the people on the DCC and those involved in planning the Walk are super knowledgeable about the goings on in the county related to caregiving, as well as the disease itself, and their dedication to providing resources and leading the way touches my heart. It’s soothing, motivating, and inspiring to me that others care and are moved to do something that affects so many of us, with the ultimate goal of eradicating the need for future generations to experience this debilitating disease.

I have discovered that by becoming involved in both the DCC and the Walk that it’s made it less daunting for me personally to travel the long road of recovering from the grief of losing my husband too soon. By focusing on raising awareness, caregiving and services, and the cure for Alzheimer’s, we heal ourselves and others struggling with the disease. By volunteering our time, by donating our energy and resources, we heal and become stronger, empowered.

By participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, I’m helping reclaim the future for millions affected by Alzheimer’s as well as other forms of dementia. Currently, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050. Our future is at risk unless we can find a way to change the course of this disease.

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