The Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held next month in Harrison County, and to make the walk a successful one will take many volunteers.
WBOY honors two of those volunteers, a mother and daughter, who have been fighting to end this disease.
Jennifer Thompson talks about how she remembers her father Jeff.
“Funny, a big teddy bear,” said volunteer Jennifer Thompson. “Generous, caring, loving.”
Thompson and her mother, Linda Richards, noticed a change of behavior around seven years ago.
“We’ve noticed confusion. Like my mom had said, it seemed almost like depression, but we finally got to that point when we knew something wasn’t right,” said Thompson.
In March of 2010, Jeff Richards was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s. He was only 49-years-old. Jeff lost his battle with the disease last summer.
“I met my husband when I was 17,” said Linda. “We were married almost 35 years so when he was gone I decided I wanted to do something to fight back against this thing that had taken him from me. My daughter found out about the Alzheimer’s Association and the walk through a friend of hers.”
After attending the walk at the VA park last fall, Linda and Thompson decided to volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association.
“On the walk committee, I have taken the position of mission chair, and I have a lot of duties to do to get things ready for the walk so I help out there,” said Thompson.
The mother-daughter duo have also spoke at other walks and events with the association.
“We’re doing a lot of public speaking,” said Linda. “In the beginning, it was very difficult but in the end I find it gives me peace and it helps me in my journey.”
Linda also devotes her time to public policy.
“AIM, it’s Alzheimer’s Impact Movement,” said Richards. “I’m the AIM chairman for our chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. It’s a sister organization, and our main focus is bringing awareness to Congress. So we will be on the front lines to bring awareness to Congress.”
Both women said volunteering has helped them heal and encourage others.
“So just having the support of other people and knowing that there are other people out there is the number one thing you can do for somebody,” said Thompson.
“That it gives you hope because life is about hope,” said Linda.
The Walk the End Alzheimer’s in Clarksburg is September 24.