by Jack Fussell
On January 12th, 2013 I left Skidaway Island State Park near Savannah Georgia. I traveled westward to Monterey, California. 2,594 miles were on foot pushing a jogging stroller. 458 miles were in a car. The reason I did this was to raise awareness concerning Alzheimer's disease and raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association.
My dad passed away on June 30th of 2000. I was holding his hand. He died with Alzheimer's disease. Prior to that, prostate cancer had taken a huge toll on both his physical and his mental health. He was a veteran of World War II and witnessed a lot of injury and death. He was a great father. He taught my brother and I how to fish and how to play baseball. He loved making us laugh.
My relationship with Dad had been strained prior to his sickness (my fault). Immediately following his passing, I realized the pettiness that kept me away from time to time. Shortly after his death, I almost lost my life to a bleeding ulcer. While in ICU, I said a prayer, asking God to let me get out of the hospital alive, and promising in return that I would help as many folks as I could until I could no longer breathe. I was in bad shape, both physically and emotionally.
After I recovered, I went to work and changed my circumstances. Since June of 2012, I have raised awareness concerning Alzheimer's disease and money for the Alzheimer's Association. All of this was done in memory of my dad. His name is Leonard Fussell. I blog primarily to express myself and keep a record of things. I hope my dad glances at my blog from time to time. In case he does, "I love you, Dad."
I've been very surprised by the response to my blog. The amount of visitors and the amount of views have been a constant encouragement. The comments have always been positive. People are very forgiving of my sometimes poor use of the English language and grammar. I appreciate their forgiving attitudes.
I've had times when I posted and then later felt discomfort. Sometimes I returned and either deleted the post or changed some of the wording. I still do that, on occasion, but not as often as in the past. I have become very proud of my attempts, and no longer am I ashamed of attempts that resemble failure.
I've had hundreds of people tell me my blog helped them. Some say it was the information the post contained, and others told me they read of my struggles but made note that I continued. They liked the example. Others told me they have witnessed growth on my part and wanted the same for themselves.
I've been blessed with a lot of information. I feel a responsibility to those who shared with me and feel I must do something with that shared knowledge.
I'm still breathing, so my promise to God is still to be kept.
The motivation for my actions and the recording of such, in written form, is to help in our global fight with Alzheimer's disease.
What inspired you to champion the cause of Alzheimer's?
My dad died with Alzheimer's in June of 2000. We had no idea any help was available.
What is the general response when people learn of your mission to walk across the country to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association ?
People are always supportive and encouraging. Never one negative word to me.
How long do you see yourself continuing this mission?
I will do this as long as I feel effective. I have learned too much to stop.
What advice do you have for others who want to help the Alzheimer's cause?
Learn as much as you can. Find a niche. Find "your approach" and be committed. Also stay near caregivers and patients to stay grounded.
What are your favorite books about Alzheimer's?
"The 36 Hour Day"
What is your favorite movie about Alzheimer's?
What are your favorite Alzheimer's blogs/websites?
I visit the Alzheimer's Association, the N.I.H. and N.I.A. websites often. I also enjoy the Alzheimer’s Association Georgia blog.
Have you been tested for Alzheimer's? If not, would you consider it?
I have not been tested. I probably would if it would be of benefit to anyone.
Anything else you’d like to share?
This is serious stuff. The toll it takes emotionally and financially is unlike anything we have ever experienced. The Nun Study is fascinating. The look on the frequently seen picture of Auguste Deter, says a lot. There is a lot of awareness to be raised.
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