Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Let’s Get Personal



By now we’ve all done or donated to many “walks for a cause.”  These events have certainly been a powerful strategy to mobilize people and money for good works.  There’s a risk, though, that folks get “donor fatigue” with so many fundraisers.  (Or maybe it’s just me…)

As much as you don’t want to have multiple good causes competing for attention and donations, realistically people will respond to the best pitch or the ones that are closest to their hearts.

That brings me to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.   Unlike some of the things we all fundraise for, you can pretty much count on having an Alzheimer’s (or other form of dementia) sufferer in your close family.  That’s why I called this pitch, “Let’s Get Personal.”

For my family, this is very personal.  Kelly Groce, our father, papaw, uncle, cousin, neighbor, and friend, had Alzheimer’s.  We lost him two years ago and feel his loss deeply today.  Like many of you we watched as he went from the man we had known all our lives to a different person.  Honestly, we don’t think nearly as much about this diminished and unsettled version of Dad/Papaw as we do about the one we loved for our whole lives.

I hope you’ll indulge me while I recount some quick stories of Kelly so you’ll see why it’s personal for us.  At the same time, I’m hoping it will encourage you to think of your personal Alzheimer’s stories – or better yet, the pre-Alzheimer’s stories of that person and your lives together with them.  And then, of course, to walk, run, or donate to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Who was Kelly Groce?

  • Forsyth Magazines. No one was more of a supporter of Keela and Brooke and the magazines.  He was deliveryman par excellence and ambassador for the magazines – a real stretch for a shy guy.
  • He ran dozens (hundreds?) of charity races.  He introduced his granddaughter and grandson to running and they’ve had a lifelong fitness orientation.
  • He was the honey of many a “honey do” list.
  • Wisdom Sharer. Kelly was a real old school guy.  He was frugal, practical, and common sensical… nothing touchy-feely about him, but he shared from a position of doing more listening than talking (you know the one about God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth, right?).
  • Creature of Habit. You could call it getting in a rut, but let’s go with creature of habit.  It’s possible he ate 80% of all the meals in his life in 3 or 4 restaurants.
  • Sweet Tooth. When his (also sweet tooth) out-of-town sons came to visit he’d make sure to include visits to Krispy Kreme, Dewey’s, and various ice cream places.  Non-sweet tooth stops focused on BBQ and Pulliam’s hot dogs.
  • Racing and Golf Fan. Racing was a life-long love for him, and golf was a later-in-life pastime that he enjoyed more on TV than on the links.

I encourage all reading this – and hopefully thinking of walking in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s or sponsoring a walker – to write your own list of things that capture your dementia-challenged loved one. I found this a fun way to remember the “real” dad I miss so much.



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