Walking to take control over Alzheimer’s

Teresa Mandella is co-chair of the Stockton Walk to End Alzheimer’s. She is walking in honor of her husband Frank, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010.

About Frank
Frank worked for years in the mortgage business both as a broker and a loan servicing agent. After receiving his diagnosis, Frank retired, which gave them the chance to focus on other things. Teresa shared that he loved gardening and working on his 1973 Pontiac Firebird.

Frank and Teresa

As his Alzheimer’s progressed, Teresa was able to keep Frank at home until 2017. She decided it was time to move him to a memory care facility, where he currently lives.

When Frank was first diagnosed, Teresa was selective with whom she shared what was going on in their lives. Being more of a private person, she didn’t want to burden others with the changes in her life.

Taking back control
After Frank moved to the memory care facility, Teresa found herself with more time. Teresa said she decided that “it was time to step up and do something that I could control, because you can’t control anything with Alzheimer’s.” She started a team for the Stockton Walk to End Alzheimer’s and joined the planning committee.

Serving on the committee “is a positive step that’s making Alzheimer’s more public,” said Teresa. “I was trying to be private and it’s not worth it. It’s a bigger issue than myself. I had to take my own feelings out of it.”

Teresa has enjoyed being part of the committee. “It’s a way to make something happen with teamwork and to make an impact,” she shared. “It’s a fun way to work together for a worthwhile cause.”

Starting her team
When Teresa first participated in the Stockton Walk, she joined team Walkers Making a Pointe. Her first Walk experience inspired her.  “You’ll be amazed when you first approach the venue and see the purple balloon arches,” Teresa recalled. “It’s breathtaking to see how many people come to this. I almost cried ‘oh, I’m not alone!’”

Teresa and Frank at the Walk

This year Teresa decided to kick it up a notch and start her own team. She knew that friends from her women’s tennis group would support her, so she invited them to sign up. She now has 12 members on her team, Creating a Racket.

Starting a team gave Teresa the chance to reach out to her friends. “Most of my friends know my husband or know about our situation,” said Teresa. The best part about starting her own team is, “being with my friends on Walk day and supporting what is meaningful to us as a team.”

Asking for donations
Email requests and Facebook fundraising have worked well for Teresa. She also likes the idea of filling out a hope card by getting a series of small donations. “It’s fun and you ask your friends to fill it out,” she said. “By the time you fill it up, you’ve raised $100!”

Frank

Walk day tip
“Coming from a co-chair role, it’s amazing to see all of our hard work since January coming together on one day,” Teresa shared.  She encourages Walk participants to “just soak it in and feel the energy of people coming together for a common cause.”

Her ultimate goal
As with most Walk participants, Teresa’s main goal is to find a way to stop Alzheimer’s. “There is nothing that’s helping Alzheimer’s, while other diseases have treatments or can be cured,” she noted. “I hope that those walking on my team will spread the word, that it becomes a domino effect and that local Walks will continue to grow.”

You can join team Creating a Racket or form your own team and join us for the Stockton Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 19 at the University of the Pacific. Not in Stockton? Find the Walk to End Alzheimer’s near you at alz.org/walk.

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