Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Schuylkill County Fights to End Alzheimer's Disease

Phyllis Gallagher, of Frackville in Washington D.C.
advocating to increase funding for Alzheimer's Disease Research
The fight to end Alzheimer’s Disease is underway in Schuylkill County again this year.

By Megan A. Hepler

The fight to end Alzheimer’s Disease is underway in Schuylkill County again this year.

June is also Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month. The Alzheimer’s Association seeks to aid victims of the disease, their families and caregivers, as well as sponsor research for treatments and a search for a cure. The Alzheimer’s Association Schuylkill County’s goal is also to continue to raise funds for families within the community and spread awareness about the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association Schuylkill County will be hosting five events from June through September.

The mission statement on the Alzheimer’s Association website is, “to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support to all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.”

Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the top ten causes of death in the United States. Diagnosing Alzheimer’s early is vital for treatment of the disease and preparation for long-term care. The disease attacks the brain functions often with subtle signs of memory problems and progresses to the inability to care for oneself. While Alzheimer’s is often associated with the elderly, people can be diagnosed with the disease in their forties.

According to the National Institute on Aging, “for many, decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may signal the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Phyllis Gallagher, of Frackville, a chairperson of the Alzheimer’s Association Schuylkill County, recently lost her husband John after a ten-year battle with Alzheimer’s. He had been diagnosed with early onset and passed away at the age of fifty-nine. She began her role with the Alzheimer’s Association Schuylkill County in 2013, shortly after her husband was diagnosed with the disease. She also advocates for increased funding for Alzheimer’s research at the state and federal level. Last year, Phyllis spoke at the Senate Committee on Aging in Washington, D.C. This year, she attended the 2018 Alzheimer's Association AIM Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C.

Phyllis Gallagher (chairperson), Kristie Ondisco (chairperson), Renee Buchanan (committee member), and other members of the Alzheimer’s Association Schuylkill County have worked together to bring fundraising events and awareness to the community. They are also in the process of working to bring more resources to Schuylkill County for the victims of Alzheimer’s and their families.

“It’s a hardship on families,” Phyllis stated. “It is a major health issue.”

Phyllis explained that often caregivers struggle to maintain the balance of caring for their loved ones, their families, and continuing to work. She reported that many times caregivers find themselves struggling financially and even without a job while doing everything they can to see that those suffering from Alzheimer’s are properly cared for. She advises anyone who needs help to call the Alzheimer’s Association hotline available 24/7 at 800-272-3900, or to find more information at www.alz.org

The ladies seem very upbeat and positive about their upcoming events. The Alzheimer’s Association Schuylkill County will be holding two new events on the longest day of the year, June 21. Their goal is to raise funds that will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association in memory of John Gallagher, Phyllis Gallagher’s husband. They will hold their 2nd Annual Golf Tournament “A Round To Remember” and the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association will also be holding first responder training in August.

“We were very happy with our turnout last year for the golf tournament, for our inaugural year,” Renee said.

Many people and companies have been sponsoring the events or donating time, items, space, and money toward the events. The generosity is endless. Here is just a short list of sponsors/donators for the upcoming events:
  • BB&T Bank
  • The Boys Upstairs
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • dJMo
  • Fountain Springs Country Inn
  • Lehigh Valley Orthodontics, Dr. Robert Bryan
  • The Lodge at Sharp Mountain
  • Mountain Valley Gold Course
  • Nick Chikotas
  • Shenandoah Senior Living Community
  • T102
  • Upcoming Alzheimer’s Association Schuylkill County events:
The 2018 The Longest Day Smart Phone Trivia event will take place on Thursday, June 21 at Fountain Springs County Inn from 6 PM to 8 PM. Registration is required for participation; fees are $5 per person, or $25 per team (2 – 6 people). Reserve your team by calling 570-875-3724. In addition to the trivia, there will be a small basket raffle. Wear purple and receive one raffle ticket.

On June 21, The Longest Day Celebration of Music will take place on at The Lodge at Sharp Mountain from 5 PM to 11 PM. There is a $10 cover per person. Entertainment will be provided by Nick Chikotas, dJMo, and The Boys Upstairs. To reserve your place call 570-622-0622.

On Friday, August 10 the Alzheimer’s Association will hold its Second Annual Golf Tournament “A Round To Remember” at the Mountain Valley Golf Course. Registration opens at 9 AM, $75 per golfer or $300 per group of four. There will be a shotgun start at 11 AM, sponsorship opportunities and vendors will be set up on the course. Venders are still needed for this event. Please contact Renee Buchanan at 570-590-9470 or Kristie Ondisco at 570-640-0663.

The Alzheimer’s Association Schuylkill County will also be providing free first responder Training at the Ambulance Building in Pottsville on August 29 at 6 PM. Please, contact Pat Moran to register at 570-728-2064.

The 2018 Schuylkill County Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held on September 8 at Union Station in Pottsville. Registration starts at 9 AM, ceremony at 10 AM, and the walk begins at 10:20 AM. The City of Pottsville will determine the route for the walk. Walkers can choose to walk or run for one or two miles. Radio station 105.5 WMGH will be doing a live broadcast on this event. For more information visit act.alz.org/SchuylkillCounty2018

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