Some people know that my husband Andrew and I met when I was a waitress at this neat little Sports Club in Oregon--The Grandstand. The owners were several guys Andrew had gone to college with and there was a large following of Alumni who hung out to watch all the games on satellite back in the day seeing all the games at home was not possible.
After we were married the guys moved on and sold the club to one of the "regulars" a man not much older then we were with the money and talent to transition the club into the next generation of Sports Fun. Everyone was excited about the changes and happy that Perry had taken over the aging club to modernize things. At the old age of 50 he was ready to do something different with his time and saved money and spent a fortune making the place top-notch.
Not even a year after all the work was done, and the crowd was large Perry started showing some strange behaviors... We all knew it couldn't be a drinking problem since most of us had know Perry too long and spent too much time serving him Pepsi instead of beer. At first it was subtle like forgetting our names, or not ordering something for the club and then we started to notice his walk had changed, his voice had changed and in many ways Perry seemed very childlike.
Those of us concerned about what we saw happening to Perry decided to call his brother on the east cost and have him come out and check on Perry. We were worried when he was spending money on things that made no sense and he didn't seem like the same grounded and logical man who had made our place the place it became. Perry's brother arrived and was saddened to see his brother in such a state--even suggested the purchase of the club had been a sign something was wrong.
After some testing we were all devastated to learn our friend who was just a little over the age of 50 had early onset Alzheimer's. None of us really cared as much about the club as we had grown to care about Perry... and for the next year or so we all did our best to protect his investment and help him get the club sold to someone else. The progression was quick for our friend who by the time we all walked out of the club the last night it was ours had became little of who we knew not too long before. Apparently the same thing had happened to Perry's father and Uncle and now it was happening to him.
Today, we still see Perry around town now and then. His brother will take him out to the club and Perry will have a Pepsi with those of us who remember who he was even though he seems to have forgotten us. His brother seems to be escaping the fate of their father but, living with the reality his brother can't be left alone.
This is a horrible way to spend the end of your life and for us to watch a Young Man suffer long years with Alzheimer's is something none of us can really comprehend. Every year members of the old club get together and take part in Alzheimer's Memory Walk®.
As the nation's largest event organised to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer care, support and research all the old regulars of the sports club take part in our local events.
The clubs old head-cook usually volunteers as a team leader and past employees and patrons still meet up once a year to walk for A Memory Walk and the fight against Alzheimer's the very thing that took our place and friend away from us.
There are walks across the country in over 600 communities. The usually Memory Walk is about a 2-3 mile walk held on a weekend morning in the fall. The same time of the year we all met at the club the most and watched all the Football games with Perry the dude who was once one of the most fun customers and later owner of Our Spot--The Grandstand.
Teaming up with the Alzheimer's Association, has given us all a reason to meet up once a year for a purpose – at the same time we hope by doing so it will move us closer to a world without Alzheimer's. Together, even a bunch of old sports fans who hung out and enjoyed games on the weekends can MOVE a nation.
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