I am walking to Washington DC for each and every one of the 5.4 million people suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, in particular my father, Lt. Col. Carl Rabon Stephens – a retired Army Chaplain.
In just one short year, my father lost the ability to continue his work with chaplains at Walter Reed Hospital as an expert on how to counsel soldiers coming home from Iraq.
My father spent his whole life caring for others in crisis and Alzheimer’s disease no longer allows him to do so. The idea that one day he will no longer have these memories, those of his family and the countless families he has helped, is unbearable.
My father was recently moved into a nursing home because his wife and I can no longer provide the level of care he now requires. As families each and every day shoulder the tremendous emotional, physical and financial toll of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s day after day, year after year – they need action today. They cannot wait and neither can I.
I am walking to Washington DC to bring awareness to this world wide health crisis and help focus attention on the urgent need for more research funding to help find effective treatments and ultimately a cure. The current national level of Alzheimer’s research funding pales in comparison to other diseases and the time is now to attack this problem with the same level of commitment that we have other major life threatening diseases.
The investments made in research funding for cancer, heart disease and AIDs (close to $14 Billion combined annually) have had positive results – more lives saved and more money saved in direct care costs. As a nation, we are currently investing approximately $500 million for Alzheimer’s research and we are spending over $200 billion in direct care costs, including $140 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid – there is something wrong with this picture! I am walking to help change the picture. I am walking to help change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease.
I am walking to Washington DC because we need to ensure the passage of $100 Million dollars for Alzheimer’s research and support programs in the FY2013 federal budget. The opportunity to elicit change is now and it begins with me. My voice is powerful. Our voice is powerful.
During my journey, I plan to bring this to the attention of any and all I can, through local, regional and national media and by sitting down with as many elected officials as will meet with me. Lastly I want to encourage other board members, local chapters, volunteers, and caregivers to take the lead in joining your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s® – tell your story, ask for contributions, and reach out to your local politicians to help champion the inclusion of $100 Million in Alzheimer’s research funding in next year’s federal budget. There is not a lot we can do for those who have passed or are currently suffering from this disease, but we owe it to them to do everything we can to treat and ultimately end this insidious disease.
Together we can shift the course of Alzheimer’s disease. Now is the time! Please join me!
Chair, Board of Directors
Alzheimer’s Association Southeastern Virginia Chapter
Dave will be walking to DC and arrive on Alzheimer’s Action Day (9.21.12).
Keep up with Dave’s journey on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/100millionwalk.
Donate to Dave’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s team here: http://tinyurl.com/6lt3vdq