This first-time Merced walker is fundraising like a champion

It’s Leah Fisher’s first time participating in the Merced Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Her team, ALZ Angels, is walking in memory of mother Veta Lane, who passed away in September 2018.

The fastest typist in the county
As a young woman, Veta Lane was known as the fastest typist who’d ever worked for the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office. Veta clerked for the Sheriff’s Office on and off for a total of 10 years. During this time, she was able to start a family, “Mom was very loving and supportive,” recalls Leah. “She was the biggest cheerleader for both me and my sister, Kelly.”

Leah and Veta

In 2016, Leah’s cousin, Marsha, began noticing that Veta was having problems and shared her concern with Leah. “I assumed it was just a normal part of aging,” Leah remembered. “I was in denial, but Marsha insisted that something was wrong.”

One day Marsha stopped by Veta’s home and found a day-old cake baking in the oven at 150 degrees. That’s when Leah knew her mom couldn’t live alone anymore.

In October 2017 Veta moved in with Leah’s other cousin, Cheryl, and lived there for three months until Veta developed pneumonia. Leah and her family decided it was time for mom to move into a skilled nursing facility. where Veta lived until she passed away in September 2018.

An invitation to volunteer
Just before Veta’s death, Cristina, a friend of Leah’s from high school, invited Leah to volunteer at the Merced Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Cristina volunteers in the Champions tent, a special tent for Walkers who have raised $500 or more.

Champions receive special treats in appreciation of their strong fundraising. Leah planned to volunteer, but when her mom died a few weeks before the Walk, Leah decided she wasn’t ready to help just yet.

The courage to start a team
This year, instead of volunteering on Walk day, Leah wanted to form a team. Since this is her first year participating, she was worried that no one would want to walk with her. Luckily, she didn’t let her doubt get in the way. 

Veta

Leah decided that the two best places to find team members were on social media and at work. “I put posts on social media with a link to my team page,” Leah shared. “I also put up flyers on the bulletin board at work.

“People at work know that my mom’s passing affected me. There are 80 people at my job and I feel like we’re a close family. We all pull together.”

Between family, friends and coworkers, Leah has 15 people on her team so far. “I love getting the email that people have joined my team or donated,” Leah remarked. “I have found that people may not have heard of the Alzheimer’s Association, but they know what Alzheimer’s disease is. I feel like I’m really helping to get the word out.”

New to fundraising
In the beginning, Leah didn’t think she would be able to raise any money. “I’m not a salesperson. I don’t know how to ask people for money,” Leah worried. “I’m not creative at trying to come up with fundraising ideas.”

Then she started asking people to join her team. Some people didn’t want to join the team but offered to make a donation instead.

Fun times with Veta and Leah

Team fundraisers
Leah and her new teammates had a few brainstorming sessions to come up with ways to raise money. They held a yard sale and asked neighbors for donations. They raised $380.

Leah’s coworkers helped make food for a bake sale. “Someone made birdhouses and we held a silent auction,” shared Leah. “We raised $482 from all of that.”

To date, Leah and her team have raised over $1,200 and are one of the top Merced teams. She is pleasantly surprised at the team’s fundraising progress.

“I set a high goal for the team of $2,500, not expecting to reach it,” Leah said. “It was so out of this world, but I think we might make it at the rate we’re going.”

Tips to raise funds like a champion
As a first-time walker it can feel overwhelming to raise money for the Walk. We asked Leah for her tips.

  • Don’t feel intimidated.
  • Identify others who might be able to help you.
  • Ask everyone. You’ll be surprised by who might want to donate.

Like many who have lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s, Leah is hoping to help change the future of Alzheimer’s. You can join team ALZ Angels or form your own team and join us for the Merced Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 5 at the Applegate Park. Not in Merced? Find the Walk to End Alzheimer’s near you at alz.org/walk.

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