Knocking her fundraising out of the park

Since they both loved the San Francisco Giants, Carole knew that a baseball-themed fundraiser would be a good way to honor the memory of her husband, Ray. It also turned out to be a great way to raise over $4,000 for the Monterey Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Take me out to the ball game
It was a perfect day for baseball. on what would have been Ray Cuffman’s 87th birthday. The weather was great, the smell of hot dogs and popcorn lingered in the air, and everyone wore their favorite team colors.

The fans cheered as the San Francisco Giants scored another run against the Milwaukee Brewers. Ray’s wife, Carole, smiled to herself as friends and family gathered in her home to remember Ray.

Introduced by friends
Ray was a college professor who taught math and science. He was a track star in college and took up SCUBA diving when he was 60. He had a lot of tragedy in his life, but he was a problem solver and a caregiver to everyone.

Carole and Ray

Carole and Ray met later in life. “We met through mutual friends at a party,” shared Carole. “We were married for 14 years, the most wonderful years of my life. He brought me happiness beyond what I can tell you. It was my honor to be married to him.”

Ray was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015 and moved into a care facility in 2016. He lived there until his death in October 2018.

A hat tip to Ray
This year, Carole was looking for a way to honor Ray and also have a fundraiser for the Monterey Walk to End Alzheimer’s. “Ray and I both loved the San Francisco Giants” shared Carole. “So I decided to throw a baseball themed party.”

Well before the party, Carole reached out to the San Francisco Giants and told them about Ray. They kindly sent her a signed baseball. She then went on to collect other items she would later give out as door prizes at the party.

Ray’s birthday

“If you wore your favorite team colors you got a ticket,” said Carole. “You could also buy tickets for various amounts. Someone donated a San Francisco Giants jacket and a pair of tickets to a game. We had 10 different gift baskets for people to win.”

Ray’s birthday party raised over $4,000. “It was really beneficial to me because when Ray died, he didn’t want a service, so we didn’t have one,” shared Carole. “But that day was so much fun. Ray would have loved it.”

A whole different ball game
When Ray was first diagnosed Carole knew he wouldn’t get better, but what she didn’t know was that it would get worse. Carole said, “I figured we would get him on medication and do whatever we had to do. I thought it would hold there and not get any worse.”

“Getting Ray’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was worse than when I was diagnosed with cancer,” shared Carole. “I was devastated.” Carole went on to say “there may not be a cure for all cancers but at least there are treatments. There is no cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s.”

Carole and Ray in Alaska

Carole also had to learn to communicate with Ray differently. “He did things he would never do, like put the car registration in the nightstand” shared Carole. “No one warned me things like this would happen.”

Carole shared Ray’s diagnosis with her neighbors. It was the beginning of her support system.

“It was better that my neighbors knew about Ray,”  Carole said. “If they saw him walking down the street alone, they could let me know. A support system is very important for a caregiver.”

The cost of care
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in 2019, unpaid caregivers in the United States will provide an estimated 18.5 billion hours of care valued at nearly $234 billion. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that the approximate lifetime cost of care for a person living with dementia in 2018 is $350,174.

Carole was one of the lucky ones. She was able to pay for Ray’s care without having to go into financial ruin. “The cost is phenomenal. I don’t know how people manage,” said Carole. “I couldn’t have done it for 20 years. If Ray had known how much this would cost, he would have said ‘we’re not doing that.’”

“If you get this diagnosis,” says Carole, “you may be in for a long mental, physical and financial journey.” Carole walks because she wants to help end the most expensive disease in America.

Favorite part of Walk day
2018 was a hard year for Carole. Ray died two weeks after the Monterey Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Despite this, Carole looks back on last year’s Walk fondly. “It was just divine, I was so happy to be there,” she recalls. “I left a bucket of tears, but it was very rewarding.”

“There was a woman who performed last year who wrote a song about her father,” Carole continued. “The lyrics were so real and so much like my journey. I could identify with what she was saying. I can’t wait to hear her again this year.”

You can join the Hoskins-Cuffman Team or form your own team and join us for the Monterey Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 12 at the Custom House Plaza at Monterey State Historic Park. Not in Monterey? Find the Walk to End Alzheimer’s near you at alz.org/walk.

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