Sunday, May 24, 2009

Quick Update

Just a quick update on my little (BIG) project. Remember that fundraiser I've been working on - Stampin' Out Alzheimer's? Well, the response in the Papercrafting world has been unbelievable! I initially set a goal to raise $2500 by the end of the event (it ends May 31) and worried that might be setting the bar too high. Well, right now, just 5 days into collecting actual money, we have raised over $3700!!! How cool is that? Over 500 papercrafters have already joined the website and have started participating in the various challenges and contests, vying for the prizes donated by our generous sponsors. Papercrafting companies continue to reach out to us and donate additional prizes and we now have over $1200 worth of prizes from more than 40 sponsors. It's amazing. I am so humbled by the outpouring of support from this online community I've been a part of for the past year.

I think most of you who read this blog are aware of why this cause is so important to me, but I wanted to share with you the "Story of Stampin' Out Alzheimer's" (this is posted on the Stampin' Out Alzheimer's website. If any of you are interested in joining the site and browsing around, e-mail me and I'll get you approved):

Hi! Thank you so much for joining me in my fight to Stamp Out Alzheimer's! This event exists because of an amazing, wonderful man and I have created this site in his honor. His name is Eddie Harper and for 32 years he has been my hero. Here he is in 2005 at age 54 - Mai Tai in hand, a twinkle in his eye, and a nice healthy tan from spending nearly every day of his recent early retirement at the beach near his home on Maui:

That man in the prime of his life, with seemingly many relaxing peaceful years of retirement in paradise ahead of him, is my father.

Today, just 4 short years after that photo was taken, my dad, my hero, the person I've looked up to more than just about anyone else in this world spends the days of his early retirement not relaxing on the beach, but in an Adult Day Care center where he thinks he's a "volunteer". The extremely intelligent, generous, dedicated man who raised me and who once was a successful private practice Optometrist is no longer here. He has been replaced by a virtual stranger. Every now and then I'll get a glimpse of that same twinkle in his eye or he'll do something goofy and laugh at himself or he'll look at me with recognition, pride and love in his eyes for a fleeting second and I'll be reminded of the man he once was.

My Dad has Alzheimer's Disease. He is 58 years old. My 2-year-old son will never get to experience my Dad's overzealous packing for a camping trip - learning that "it's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it". My son will never get to sit patiently while my Dad spends hours making out a list on a legal pad of all the numbers for that year's baseball cards so my son can cross them off the list as he collects them, making it easier to know which ones he needs and has duplicates of when it's time to make trades. My son will never be quickly shoved into a closet in the middle of the night in Oklahoma when the tornado sirens are going off, being told to put on the oversized motorcycle helmet and bullet-proof vest "just in case", while my Dad promises him that everything is going to be just fine. My son will never see my Dad running to help some old lady he's never met who's about to get bowled over by a wave at the beach, just because he can't stand NOT to help someone who looks like they might need help. My son will never get to experience these and many of the other wonderful childhood experiences my father created for me and I always imagined him creating for his grandchildren. My 2-year-old son will never know the man who raised me. This, more than anything else, breaks my heart.

This is the reality of Alzheimer's Disease. It knows no prejudices. It doesn't save itself for just the very old, sometimes it strikes those who are much too young. My father was in his early 50s when he first started showing the early signs of the disease. Now, at 58, he is moving into the later stages of the disease and we have no way of knowing what the future holds. My Mom, who is only 57, is spending what was supposed to be the prime of her life taking care of a man who is no longer the same person she fell in love with and married nearly 37 years ago. Alzheimer's Disease shows no mercy.

How has Alzheimer's Disease affected your life or the life of a family member or loved one? Please take a minute to share your story and pay tribute to those who have and are suffering from the heartbreaking effects of Alzheimer's.

Thank you,
Jen Tapler
Stampin' Out Alzheimer's Event Coordinator

So that's it. That's all I wanted to share today. I've been working very hard on this project, but it's been worth it! I promise to come back and update the blog with some pictures of Dean soon!! Thanks for letting me ramble!!

1 comment:

Amanda said...

You are so brave to share your story and heartache with all of us! There's nothing to say to comfort you in these coming trials but holding on to his memory and knowing who he is/was will be your greatest reward as you pass along these stories to Dean. God Bless you, your family and your mother.