Linda Richards and Jennifer Thompson of the Alzheimer’s Association 2017 Celebrating Volunteers Winner
Miley Legal Group
Over 37,000 West Virginians 65 and older are recorded as living with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2016. That number is only dwarfed by the 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s everyday. Raising awareness, educating the public and raising funds for a number of services provided to the families and those affected by Alzheimer’s are the priorities of the Alzheimer’s Association. Their primary method of doing so comes through the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The walk, held locally in Clarksburg on September 24th, adds funds that not only provide for research of the disease, but also helps in funding the education of families with a member who has Alzheimer’s, hosting Alzheimer’s support groups and assisting in the training of caregivers for patients that have been diagnosed. The West Virginia chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association also hosts community education events and runs advocacy services to educate our elected officials and government decision makers on the impact of Alzheimer’s on our society and the importance of finding a cure.
Linda Richards and Jennifer Thompson know first hand the devastation that Alzheimer’s can leave in its wake. Not only was the diagnosis of Linda’s husband and Jennifer’s father unexpected, it was at an early age. Jeff Richards was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 49. Not only was this a shock to the family, it began a long and difficult road that was met with concern, confusion and frustration. Concern of a young family struggling to deal with such a devastating disease. Confusion of both patient and caregivers on how to move forward with the disease at such a young age and the frustration of dealing with a disease that presents challenges for every aspect of the life of the patient and the lives of those that support and care for that patient. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s took the life of Jeff a little over six years after his initial diagnosis. His death not only ended a hard fought battle, but it also sparked the creation of strong advocates in Linda and Jennifer, who have helped hundreds of others within our community through their volunteerism and the spirit of a loved one.
It has become a priority of Linda and Jennifer to not only educate the public on this terrible disease, but to also build and grow a support network for those families that have been affected by a diagnosis. Through the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Linda and Jennifer work to bring attention to this disease as well as raise money to provide comfort, education and support to those in our community impacted by Alzheimer’s. Their efforts brought them to the forefront of this battle and is why they were both selected by WBOY and The Miley Legal Group to be recognized as this month’s Celebrating Volunteer award winner. Not only is it important to highlight the impact they have as volunteers, but to also highlight the upcoming walk and the statewide impact that Alzheimer’s has on families across our state and the country.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is one of the primary fundraising efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. Through individual contributions and corporate sponsors, the walk has raised over $492 million since 1989. The local Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held on September 24th with registration beginning at 1:00 pm at the Veterans Memorial Park Amphitheater in Clarksburg. Although there is no fee to walk, a donation of any amount is appreciated. Registration for teams and individuals is available up until the day of the walk.
“Alzheimer’s affects families all across our region in many different ways. Both Linda and Jennifer have been touched personally by this disease, and have worked to raise awareness to Alzheimer’s and the goals of the Alzheimer’s Association, ” Gretchen Ross of WBOY stated. “They have taken their grief public to not only show support for others in similar situations, but to also help raise funds to work towards a cure for the disease that took their husband and father.”
“I have seen the devastation Alzheimer’s has on families within our community. The suffering that it imposes on the patient and the family has lead to much heartache and many tears,” said Tim Miley, owner of The Miley Legal Group. “Volunteers like Linda and Jennifer become the backbone of an organization that works to not only find a cure for this disease, but to also bring support directly to the patients and their families as they move through the stages of Alzheimer’s and the impact it has on their daily lives.”
Click for more information on the Alzheimer’s Association West Virginia Chapter or the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
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The Celebrating Volunteers awardees receive public recognition for not only themselves, but their organization. They also receive a $500 contribution to the organization they represent in their name. Gretchen Ross of WBOY TV and Tim Miley of The Miley Legal Group work together to select the awardees from the many nominations received from the public. The volunteer selected will have demonstrated their commitment to an organization through volunteerism and support.
“I am an avid supporter of volunteerism in our communities.” Miley stated. “The Celebrating Volunteers program is a way that we can recognize the hard work and dedication of individuals across our region.”