Fresno woman participates in her first Walk to End Alzheimer’s

In her first year participating in Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, Audrey Sohikian of Fresno has already joined the Walk planning committee for the Walk in Madera. She walks in honor of her paternal grandparents, who both had dementia.

How did you learn about Walk to End Alzheimer’s?

I went on the Alzheimer’s Association website to learn how I could get involved. The Walk resonated with me because I love the idea of a large group of people, from all different backgrounds, coming together for one cause.

Audrey, holding a hawk

What motivated you to participate in the Walk?

My paternal grandparents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia. My grandpa, Ben, lived with Alzheimer’s for seven years before passing away in 2005. He was a rocket scientist who immigrated by himself to the U.S. during the Armenian genocide in his early twenties. He studied at Princeton and went on to help build the first lunar module to land on the moon.

Grandpa Ben was larger than life and constantly pushed those around him to be the best versions of themselves. While at Princeton, he met my grandma, Ruby, who also immigrated to the U.S. on her own from England. Grandma Ruby was also very intelligent; she was a translator and knew 5 languages.

Grandma Ruby was diagnosed with dementia in 2016 and passed away this past January at the beautiful age of 97. She was my everything. She was the very first person to hold me when I was born and we always said it was from that moment that we shared an undeniable bond.

My grandma taught me what it meant to be kind yet fierce, how to be compassionate yet courageous. She was a true gem, touching the souls of everyone she met.

Grandma lived down the street from me, so growing up I would go over to her house constantly. She was the typical grandma with cookies in the oven upon your arrival.

Ben and Ruby's wedding photo
Ben and Ruby’s Wedding Photo

When I went to college, we spoke weekly if not more until she passed away. As I write this, tears fall onto the keyboard, thinking about the beautiful memories we shared. Like how we loved playing Old Maid, and without fail, Grandma always ended up with the old maid card and we would belly laugh until we cried.

I loved her with my whole heart and soul and miss her every single day. After she passed, I knew I needed to join the fight to cure Alzheimer’s and other dementias. I want to help others who have been or are being affected by this disease because it doesn’t just impact the person living with dementia: it impacts everyone who loves them.

I am here in honor of my grandparents and to continue their legacy by sharing their story and love with others.

How are you going to grow your team?

I plan to start with family and friends, then branch out to coworkers. I am going to put flyers up in our office breakroom encouraging people to join my team (or create their own!).

How are you going to fundraise?

I plan to fundraise on social media, using not only my account, but those of friends and family too. Also, I will use various platforms in the community to post flyers (libraries, the gym, town hall, etc.).

Why do you think it’s important for people to donate to the Alzheimer’s Association? Donations are so important because they help keep all of the wonderful programs and resources the Association offers free! The donations also fund research to seek a cure for Alzheimer’s and dementia, which could benefit not only today’s society but future generations.

What fundraising tips or advice would you share with new Walk participants? Use your family and friend base to help spread your message even further!

Audrey, her grandmother and her brother, Andrew, sitting at a table
Audrey with her grandmother, and Andrew (brother)

What are you looking forward to on Walk day?

Sharing my grandparents’ stories and listening to other people share their loved one’s stories. Being around people who can relate to the experience of loving someone with this disease. But above all, coming together as one to fight for a cure!

Tell us about your volunteer work for the Alzheimer’s Association.

I volunteer as a committee member for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and as a Community Educator. I like the educator role because I enjoy informing the public about the Alzheimer’s Association and all the wonderful programs that are offered.

The Walk Committee role allows me to engage with my community and provide people with an unforgettable experience while touching the hearts of so many.

What is one suggestion you would give to someone who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or is a new caregiver?

Take care of yourself. It’s so easy to ignore your needs when you’re a caregiver, but your person needs/wants you to be healthy and happy. And for those who are currently affected, just know you’re not alone. I will fight for you with all I have.

Audrey invites you to register for the 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Madera and walk with her on September 24. Not near Madera or Fresno? Find your walk at alz.org/walk.

More information:

Fresno woman participates in her first Walk to End Alzheimer’s

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