Why I Walk Wednesday with Faith Shartzer

20 May


There is much said about the increasing cost of the care for Alzheimer’s victims.  In fact, current predictions bankrupt the country by 2050 unless some cure, some solution is found.  That alone should motivate all to help to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

But, it alone, is not why I walk….I walk because I lived through the pain of losing a husband to Alzheimer’s.  For 11 years, I cared for him as he lost his memory, his personality, and who He was….I walk because no one should lose their life not remembering their spouse, or their children, or their career.  And no loved one should have to grieve each day….day after day, year after year…as they lose the one they love.  Alzheimer’s WILL bankrupt the country; but not before it emotionally, physically and financially bankrupts countless families.

I started Walking for Alzheimer’s in 2007 when it was deeply personal; a way to express my grief and to find the support from family and friends who had no words for our pain.  Now I walk because as a Riverside nurse and a James City County resident, I have watched person after person, family after family, neighbor after neighbor endure the same pain and loss.

NOW is the time to fight for a cure; NOW is the time to support our friends and family.  Now is the time to sign up to Walk To End Alzheimer’s.

– Faith Shartzer, RN

Why I Walk Wednesday with Dee Yontz

13 May


I walk because of my momma and daddy.  My daddy had very early stages of dementia, but did not die from it. Instead, his heart and lungs gave out after heart surgery, and he passed September  15, 2013.  Momma had stage 5 Alzheimer’s and passed August 10, 2014, on her and daddy’s 54th wedding anniversary.

It was the highest of honors that can’t be put into words having them here living in Virginia with me and caring for them.  I brought them to Virginia in August of 2013. Twelve days later, daddy had two heart attacks and was never able to come off a ventilator. Momma was here with me until December 2014, when an unfortunate medication reaction put her into the hospital. She was there two weeks, then had to go to physical therapy at Golden Living where I decided to keep her long care – she was safer there due to wandering. I went there every single day to still help continue to care for her. As months went on, her progress went down, she lost weight, and she was unable to speak, eat or know us anymore.  She aspirated and developed pneumonia and hospice started, three days later she passed….They are why I Walk and do all I can to help fund research for a cure.

Why I Walk Wednesday with Mary Dziedziak

6 May Why-I-Walk-Wednesday_Mary-Dziedziak


Why I Walk – Faith of My Mother

I have always loved the song “Faith of our Fathers.” I have fond memories of my father singing this in his rich baritone voice and my mother playing it on the piano.  “Faith of our fathers, holy faith, We will be true to Thee till death.” Children often learn about faith from their mothers.  My mother taught her eight children many prayers, she read stories from the Bible and taught us how to behave in church. People often commented on how well behaved my siblings were in church, being so young. There were never any threats, we knew we should be reverent in the house of God.  We had many books of saints and our grandmother gave us a subscription to a religious magazine for children.

Through her example and her daily prayers for her children, we were blessed as a family. Her children never questioned, “Do I have to go to church?” My father’s role was breadwinner; often he was tired or in pain. My mom had never learned to drive and was not shy about seeking transportation for us for Sunday services.

My sister, Betty drowned at the age of 19 trying to rescue two teenage boys in the lake where my parents lived.  Mom proudly told people she had eight children and “one is in heaven.”

When my father passed away at the age of 61 from COPD,  I became her designated driver to church on Sundays. Since my husband was a choir director at a different church (same religion), she willingly went to my church.  For several years, she had friends who needed a ride to church.  This was never a problem because mom asked and I knew how much it meant to her and her friends to be able to go.

One day I saw my mother mailing money to the church she had gone to when my father was alive.  She had not been there in fifteen years.  When asked about this she replied: “That’s my church, which is where my funeral has to be.” She had no concept that she could become a member of the church she had attended for fifteen years. She loved the clergy at our church. The pastor had changed several times at the other church and many of those friends had died or moved away. This was the first indicator for me that she was making poor judgment. She had been sending money to a church weekly that she had not attended in fifteen years.

Gradually, there were more indicators. Mom never offered money for gas during the many years I drove her to church. One day she stated she was going to give a little something extra for picking up her medication. The medicine was $40.00; she wrote the check for $400.00. I could not get her to understand this was wrong.  A week later, she realized that she had written the check for too much.

Not long after that Mom said she was bored, nothing she wanted to see on TV. I thought about how much mom loved to go to Mass every opportunity she could.  We added a religious channel, now she could watch mass twice daily and hear various prayers throughout the day.  Her children soon learned not to call when these shows were on.

Mom no longer remembers she has a daughter in heaven; nor does she want to go to the cemetery. Fifty percent of the time she will get her children’s names right. She cannot remember her grandchildren’s names, or who their parents are.

The one thing that has not left her is her spirituality. She loves being in church, she smiles at people she recognizes, somewhat.  Little children come to hug her and shake her hand during the service. Most importantly, she loves to receive communion.  She has such an awesome loving, reverent look.

For many years, Mom would be outside waiting for me to pick her up for church. It has become increasingly difficult to get her cleaned, dressed, get her into the SUV and to church on time on Sundays.  Several siblings tell me just let her watch the Mass on TV. This is the highlight of her week, as it has been her entire life. The faith of my mother, my aunts and relatives that have died of Alzheimer’s still lived on even when they could no longer speak. This will be the hardest thing for me when she can no longer go to church with me. I will forever miss my mother’s amazing faith and love.

Who is one of the top 5 team captains for The Longest Day?

27 Apr
Left side front row: Tim Somerville

Left side front row: Jim Somerville and team at St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church, Norfolk

Congratulations to The Longest Day Team Captain James Somerville for being recognized by the Alzheimer’s Association for team recruitment! With 17 team members (and counting), he is one of the top 5 team captains in the country for team recruitment! His team’s name is “St. Timothy Lutheran Church Norfolk Va.” Way to go, Jim!

The Longest Day takes place on June 21st, 2015. There’s still time to form and register a team. Please join Jim and our other team captains in raising awareness and funds and making a positive difference in the lives of those affected by Alzheimer’s. It’s easy! Go to www.alz.org/tld to get started.


Third Annual Reason To Hope Breakfast

27 Apr


The Alzheimer’s Association Southeastern Virginia Chapter extends its heartfelt gratitude to all who came together as a community to help make the 3rd Annual Reason to Hope Breakfast a great success.  Over $30,000 was raised to help provide education, care and support to local Alzheimer’s families and to advance research to put an end to this cruel disease.  You represent the hope that shines bright for those navigating the maze of Alzheimer’s. Thank you!

From LtoR:David Stephens, Carol Lewis, Karen Garner, Jim Garner, and Gino Colombara

Our speakers from left to right: David Stephens, Cathy Lewis, Karen Garner, Jim Garner and Gino Colombara

You can see photos from the event here.

Thanks to all of our sponsors:


Thanks to all of our Table Hosts:

Annie M. Alexander, Sentara
Scott N. Alperin, Midgett • Preti • Alperin PC
Marion Backus, Data Cable Technologies
Kathryn Bennett, The Memory Center of Virginia Beach
Nanette Birckbichler, After55.com
Christina Drumm-Boyd, Care Connect of Hampton Roads
Meagan Chandler, MRI-CT
Brenda Cobb, Interim Healthcare
Theresa Davis, TFA Benefits
Noel Evans, Genworth
Kimberley Green, Alzheimer’s Association
Stephanie Lambert, Quality Hands & Hearts Home Care
David Lineberry, Palliative Care of Tidewater
Vera Morgan, Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Felicia Packer, Hospice of Virginia
Robert Palmer, MD, Eastern Virginia Medical School
Katrina Parker, The Memory Center of Virginia Beach
Sandra Smith, Oast & Taylor PC
David Stephens, Stephens & LaRoche Financial Partners
Randy Thompson, Coastal Virginia Magazine
Andy Tysinger, Seniorcorp

Twenty-seven miles equals how many pennies for Alzheimer’s research?

16 Apr

NARFE, Peninsula Chapter 682 of the National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees, started an Alzheimer’s disease fundraising effort in 1998 called the Miles of Pennies Campaign. As of April they have collected twenty-seven miles of pennies, totaling over $23,256.22 surpassing their goal of two miles. Each mile represents 84,480 pennies.

Marie Collins

Marie Collins

Marie Collins, with Chapter 682 says, “One gentleman shows up to every meeting with two rolls of pennies. It may not seem like much but after a year that’s twenty-four rolls of pennies. It all adds up.” Collins went on to say that if members can’t make it to the meetings to bring their donations, she drives to their homes to pick up the pennies herself.

On the national level, NARFE members have fundraised more than ten million dollars to the NARFE Alzheimer’s Fund with a goal of twelve million dollars for 2016. NARFE is also one of a select number of organizations to belong to the Zenith Society, an elite group of donors who have pledged one million dollars or more to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Association cannot thank the members of NARFE enough for their longtime generosity and support.  We look forward to continuing our partnership. Their actions build momentum as we get closer to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.


Make an online donation personally or on behalf of your NARFE chapter.

My Brain Matters Monday with Karen Garner

23 Feb

My Brain Matters Karen Garner


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