From as early as she could remember, Marie Glapiak’s grandmother Nell was in constant motion. Every time they would visit, Nell would be awake before everyone else, spend the full day cooking and cleaning and loving on her grandchildren, and then be the last one to bed as she prepared for the next day. She managed her household’s finances and prepared holiday feasts that were dreamed about year-round. Nell was “opinionated, intelligent, beautiful, and kind” says Marie. “We all joked that she would be around forever, like her older sister Margaret, until one day we finally realized she wouldn’t be.”
The family started noticing small things were off a few years ago. Nell would buy shampoo and toothpaste every time she went to the store, not realizing they weren’t yet out. She kept insisting her coffee pot was broken, but it would miraculously start working again when the family visited. Then one day, she locked her keys in the car at the grocery store and walked the 3 miles home instead of going inside to call someone. Nell and her husband Henry moved to Charlotte to live with their daughter and Marie’s mother, Sarah.
Due to Marie’s involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association as an advocate and staff member, the family suspected what was happening quickly and connected with care and support services in the area. Sarah and Marie found a support group, they utilized the 24/7 helpline, and attended several education programs. After Marie’s grandfather passed in 2017, they planned for Nell’s future legally and financially as a family, following Association advice.
After Nell was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Marie teamed up with the Alzheimer’s Association Western Carolina Chapter CEO, Katherine Lambert, to host the first Race to Remember in 2017 to raise funds and awareness for The Longest Day campaign. “That first year we had a small group of family and friends, and some pretty sweet koozies. The second year, our group was much bigger… and the koozies were back!” In 2018 Race to Remember raised $1,720.
After taking a year off in 2019 due to being six months pregnant last June, Marie was ready to get back at it in 2020, but then her grandmother, Nell, passed away in February. And then the pandemic hit.
The last time my grandmother spoke to me, I introduced my son to her for the first time. She didn’t quite know how this baby was connected to her, but she lit up anyways. My grandma Nell loves babies. She has six precious great-grandsons.
Despite the unexpected turns of 2020, Marie was determined to remain in the fight against Alzheimer’s. This June, Marie is turning her passion into a MOVEment by participating in The Longest Day MOVEment Challenge, running socially distanced sponsored miles with her son in memory of Grandma Nell. Using social media and the fundraising tools in the Longest Day Participant Center, Marie asks her community to sponsor her and her son Feliks at $20 a mile. “I couldn’t let this year go by without standing up for my grandma. She wouldn’t sit still for anything, so neither can we!” Marie explains.
Marie is quick to see the silver linings in things. “Moving my grandparents to Charlotte allowed me to get to know my grandmother so much better, despite this illness ripping her away. I’ve also gotten to know my mom better. She is the real hero in all of this. She gave her whole self to caregiving, which inspires me on days that I don’t entirely feel like going out to run. If she could fit in daily trips to see Grandma after working and managing her life, I can get us off our couch and go run, for sure!”
Inspired to start your MOVEment for the Longest Day?
The Longest Day is the day with the most light — the summer solstice. On June 20, people from across the world will fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through a fundraising activity of their choice. Together, they use their creativity and passion to raise funds and awareness for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.
About the The Longest Day MOVEment Challenge
As an easy way to participate in The Longest Day, we’re inviting all of North Carolina to join some activity good for our body and brain health. Doesn’t matter whether you run in your neighborhood, on your treadmill, clip in for a ride on your bike, or simply work to see those steps increase on your fitness tracker. Join us in turning those miles into a MOVEment.
The Longest Day, which has always been a virtual event is still taking place as planned, culminating on the summer solstice, June 20, 2020. The comfort and safety are of the utmost importance to the Alzheimer’s Association, so we understand if your plans have now changed. As coronavirus (COVID-19) changes many aspects of our daily life, you can still make an impact in the fight against Alzheimer’s by fundraising for The Longest Day. Depending on your situation, The Longest Day could provide a healthy outlet for you and your family during an extended stay at home. For those wishing to explore how you can continue to support The Longest day virtually, reach out to Hannah Litaker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 980.498.7724 or learn more online.