Pedal for Alzheimer’s by Michelle Marciniak & Beth Brooke (affectionately known as Brooke-Marciniak),
In its second year, Pedal for Alzheimer's is a 1,098-mile cycling fundraiser that spreads awareness of the challenges and raises funds for the care and cure of Alzheimer's disease. Each mile of this epic endurance ride commemorates one of Pat Summitt’s 1,098 career victories. The ride begins on October 7th at Pat’s commemorative statue in Knoxville, TN on the campus of the University of Tennessee where Pat coached and Michelle played. The ride ends on October 17th in Daytona, FL at mile 1,098. Michelle will ride 100 miles a day for 11 straight days as of the "1,098 Cyclists.” Beth will join the ride for the final 6 days, 549 miles from Charleston, SC to Daytona, FL.
Why are we doing this? It’s personal. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and it impacted both of us. And so many of you. Beth's best friend in the world, Howard, who happened to be her father, died from Alzheimer's 15 years ago. Beth underreacted to the diagnosis, not fully appreciating then the certainty of the outcome. And she and her mother struggled through the caregiving never fully understanding the disease. But thanks to advice from a friend who had lost a mother to Alzheimer’s, Beth knew to keep a watchful eye on her mother. To make sure to save her mother from losing her life to the depth of the caregiving burden.
Michelle witnessed her beloved college basketball coach, Pat Summitt, die two years ago at age 62, diagnosed with 'early onset' at age 57. When Pat was diagnosed, Beth from experience, helped Michelle to understand what to expect at each turn with the progression of Pat's disease. The gentle counsel and advice was invaluable as Michelle had no idea what to expect when she interacted with Pat just like so many caregivers confronted with a disease they have never experienced. What most people do not realize is that Alzheimer's affects the loved ones, often the caregivers, as much as the actual patient. In the later stages of the disease, the caregiver takes on the full brunt of the disease. A loving support system is critical both for the patient and the caregiver. As the caregiver, the awareness of warning signs, what to look for, and how to communicate to your loved one with Alzheimer's is vital to understand as you cope, learn and love your way through the disease together.
And so, we will pedal. Pedaling to raise awareness and funds in order to shine a brighter light on the need to help the caregivers and to find a cure for Alzheimer's. The conversations – yes, the noise - around Alzheimer's needs to be louder! It has affected Beth and Michelle's life personally as it has affected millions of others, most likely including you. We invite you to join us in the fight as we will ride for Howard and Pat and for all of your loved ones afflicted with Alzheimer's. To what end? We want hope. We want hope… so that a diagnosis does not come with today’s certainty of the outcome. We want that for the diagnosed and for those who caregive for them. We want hope… that there is hope to be cured. To be cared for and cured. We want to thank you for making a tax-deductible contribution to Pedal for Alzheimer's. Upon completion of our ride this year, we will be making a contribution to The University of Tennessee Medical Center Alzheimer's Research Initiative.
We are all in this together! Michelle & Beth