Encouraging coworkers to support the Alzheimer’s Association

Claudia Knowlton-Chike supports the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of her father, Dick, who died from Alzheimer’s in 2019. She has developed a four-part approach to encourage her coworkers at Google to join her.

Dick, Claudia and her brother Scott

Dad’s diagnosis sheds light on Alzheimer’s
Dick Knowlton, the former Chairman and CEO of Hormel Foods, was a very talented businessman.  Starting from poor beginnings, he knew the value of hard work. He loved people, treated them with respect and always had a never ending instinct to reach out his hand in friendship.

Even after his diagnosis in 2009, he remained comfortable talking to people.  “Before Alzheimer’s he was able to remember everyone’s name,” shared Claudia. “As the disease progressed, he wasn’t able to remember names, but he still had that glint in his eye as he reached out and shook your hand.”

Dick helped to raise awareness for the disease by being transparent about his diagnosis. “It’s something we should talk about, and something we should raise funds for” Claudia stated. “Dad helped the Alzheimer’s Association raise funds to seek a cure.”

Claudia’s parents were married for 64 years. Claudia’s mother took care of Dick all by herself for almost 11 years. The last year of his life she had help in the evenings. Dick died in February.

“It was just a true love story,” Claudia said lovingly. “She never felt sorry for herself or complained. She just loved him, and to her that meant taking care of him, no matter what.”

Nancy and Dick

Asking her coworkers to get involved
Claudia is the Senior Director of Global Logistics for Google in the Sunnyvale office. She and her co-captain Maxwell Wallace, who works in the San Francisco office, are heading up the Google teams for the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Walk to End Alzheimer’s events.

Claudia shares the four-pronged approach she is using to get her fellow coworkers onboard:

  1. Send out an email to everyone in the office asking them to sign up and join the Google Walk team.
  2. Utilize an internal employee groups at Google. These groups will help spread the word about Walk.
  3. Educate coworkers about Alzheimer’s disease and how the Walk supports Alzheimer’s research, care and support.
  4. Ask other Google offices throughout the country to start their own teams.

Inspired by father’s generosity to ask others to give
Asking for donations can be a hard thing for many people. Claudia is sending out emails to friends, family and especially to fellow coworkers.

“I start my emails by asking if they know anyone who has been affected by the disease,” shares Claudia. “Then I get them to think about the fact that there is no cure and remind them of the financial burden it puts on families.”

Claudia’s mother and father were proactively working to find a cure. “They invested in research and education for caregivers,” Claudia said. “It costs money to find a cure and it requires each of us to reach into our pocketbooks to make that happen.”

How companies can give back
Many companies encourage their employees to volunteer their time for a worthy cause. Google is no different. Here are two ways Google shows their employees that the company cares about causes that are important to employees:

  1. Matching gifts – Google will match an employee’s donation dollar for dollar up to a certain amount per year.
  2. Volunteer hours – Google lets their employees take time off during the workday to volunteer and also donates additional funds for every hour an employee spends volunteering through a specific time frame.

To find out if your company has a matching gift policy visit our website here, or speak with your local human resources representative.

Claudia and Dick

Favorite part of Walk day
“I love spending time with friends and remembering those that have been affected by the disease,” shares Claudia. “The whole feel of people coming together for a cause like this, you feel a lot of love.”

Claudia stays focused on the vision of the Alzheimer’s Association, a world without Alzheimer’s. “The whole reason for coming out is to help the current state of the disease and fix it for the future,” says Claudia. “We’re all doing something good that makes a positive impact.”

You can join Claudia’s team, Team Google, or form your own team and join us for the Silicon Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 12 at the Arena Green in San Jose. Not in San Jose? Find the Walk to End Alzheimer’s near you at alz.org/walk.

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