A year ago, I wanted to take the family to the 2012 Spring Gala, but I did not hear about it until the last minute and we were not ready as a family to talk about Alzheimer’s.
A few months later, I joined the Committee for the 2013 Spring Gala. I really wanted this to be “An Affair to Remember” for our family. The theme of the dinner was a Kentucky Derby Party “An Affair to Remember”.
I decided to make it a big deal for our family. I purchased two tables for the event and invited family and some friends to the event.
A few weeks before the event, my Dad went out and picked out an outfit for my Mom. He also went online to shop for a Derby Day hat. I have to say, I’m impressed with Dad’s shopping ability. 🙂
My Sister Debi and her girls (Ashley and Cara) flew in for the event from Florida. They were in town for about 36 hours. It was an emotional weekend, but great to have the family in town.
My other Sister Dawn, her boyfriend Kevin and her oldest son Ty and Anjelo attended the dinner. Her youngest son Austin had a baseball game and was not able to attend, he is 17. 😦
A great friend of mine (Trevor) from Minnesota flew in for the dinner as well. He was in town for less than 24 hours. I recently went to Minnesota to jump in a frozen lake with his daughter Amelia, our friend Dwayne and Trevor. We did the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics – Minnesota. (I think he had the better deal – I traveled to jump in a lake and he traveled to have dinner) We had a lot of fun and raised some money for another great cause. That was another 24 trip for a great cause. 🙂 I had an opportunity to get to know Trevor and his family over the last five years. It’s been truly a blessing (Our friendship started on a trip with Trevor and two of his friends to NYC for the last game in Yankee Stadium. It was a five day adventure – I didn’t really know Trevor before this trip, but became great friends during/after. I was a last minute fill in when Dwayne was not able to go.)
My Uncle Ed (Mom’s Brother) also attended. My Aunt Avie (Mom’s Sister) had a prior commitment with her church. My Aunt Peggy (Mom’s Sister) lives in Florida and is not able to travel. My Aunt Helen passed away from this disease last year and my Uncle Chuck passed away many years ago.
My parent’s friends (they are like family) Chris and John Barber also attended. My parents other close friends (Rita and John Groll) were out of town on vacation and not able to attend. My lifelong friend Tammy Parker attended the event.
We had a great time at the dinner. It was at Heatherdowns Country Club in Toledo, Ohio. It was a beautiful venue for this event. We had more than 300 people in attendance at the event. It was a sold out event and they had to put a tent up in the parking lot, to make room for all the silent auction items and another bar.
The event started with several presentations from various people with the disease, advocates and special guests. Dave Holmes was our MC for the night. He did an awesome job and has also been impacted by this disease personally.
Dinner was great and we had some great conversation around the dinner table. Mom seemed to enjoy herself at the dinner. Dad was able to relax and enjoy the evening as well. It was a little rough in the beginning, but things settled down.
There was a hat contest for the Derby hats. Mom was one of the four finalists in the contest. When the hat contest started, I had a hard time to get Mom to the stage. After a long discussion while we walked up to the stage, we finally made it. The entire way up to the stage, Mom kept saying that she did not enter the contest and did not want to go up there. 🙂
There were four finalists and they were judged by crowd applause. Mom clapped for the other three finalists. When they asked for applause for my Mom; the crowd erupted in cheers and applause. It was an amazing experience and when you see the photo of Mom, you will see why. When Toni bought over the flowers to my Mom, she was in shock. She said to me,”Why didn’t the other ladies not get flowers?” I said, “You won the hat contest!” Mom said, “What hat contest?” You have to love this woman! 🙂
Mom was so happy and enjoyed carrying around her flowers. People stopped and took pictures with her. She was truly enjoying the moment. By the time we returned to the table, Mom had no memory of the hat contest, but she enjoyed the moment. This was “An Affair to Remember”
Later in the evening, several people went out back to smoke cigars! A new tradition at the Spring Gala. 🙂
The night ended with a horse race! (Well, horses on a broomstick). It was a lot of fun! I bid on the horse that I was named as the owner in the Spring Gala program. I was not aware that my family and friends were behind me, bidding me up in price. We finished in last place, but had so much fun and raised money for a great cause.
On Sunday, everyone went home. My sister and her girls went home to Florida. Trevor went home to Minnesota. I went to DC to advocate for Alzheimer’s. My Dad had a difficult day with Mom. I’m assuming Mom felt abandoned and confused that everyone left and she was still at home. The following days were better.
I would like to thank everyone that attended, donated, sponsored and everyone that worked so hard to put this event on. It was truly “An Affair to Remember” – The Heatherdowns Country Club staff was great and the venue was amazing.
For all those with this disease, I pray for you! For all those caring for someone with this disease, I pray for you. For all those that last someone close to them, I pray for you.
I will continue fighting for an end to Alzheimer’s with you and for you! We need to talk about this disease with our family, friends and politicians. We need to speak up and speak up often to increase funding to find a cure.
Thanks to Salli Bollin, Beth Wong, Toni Schindler, Nick Vargas, all the employees at the local chapter, volunteers, Board Members, Spring Gala Committee Members, attendees, sponsors and donors.