Jimmie Burgess grew up listening to his grandmother preach. Her extensive knowledge of the Bible is actually what alerted her family to the first signs of her developing dementia. Jimmie recalls that she would “get to the sermon and get flustered.” Her sermons would “lose a coherent and clear direction.” Jimmie’s grandfather stepped up resolutely to become her caregiver, “becoming more of a nurse than a husband” in the last 10 years of her life battling dementia. She slowly lost recognition of her loved ones, but continued to come to church every Sunday with her husband until she passed.
Jimmie comes from a family of pastors. His calling as a Youth Pastor at Ebeneezer Church in Burlington, N.C. is a natural fit as a grandson to not one, but two pastors. Along with owning a car detailing business, and service projects with the youth at his church, Jimmie keeps active in his community. In fact, his work with his youth group connected him to the Alzheimer’s Association earlier this year when supporting the local public school system. While his fight is focused on raising awareness about the disease in his community, because of his grandmother, his fight has a deeply personal note.
As a brand new Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Alamance County planning committee member, Jimmie’s walk experience this year will be far from “typical”. That is clearly not stopping him from honoring his grandparents’ journey and spreading his story. He takes the mission-centered approach of his church very seriously, and jumped at the chance to get his youth group involved in a cause that impacts their life so closely. Jimmie had his first Zoom calls with Association staff in early April 2020 and immediately started dreaming of ways to impact his community. In fact, after sharing his partnership plans less than a week ago, his team “already has donations rolling in!”
Noting that Alzheimer’s and dementia impact the African American community in several ways, he focuses on several issues with his awareness activities. First, he hopes his work will shine a light on the importance of early detection and diagnosis. In addition to saving our country money, an early diagnosis allows families to plan for the future. Second, he recalls his grandparent’s experience and advocates for easier access to home care services. “African Americans want to do the best they possibly can at caregiving,” he shares. He can’t help but wonder how expanded resources for his grandfather would have helped their journey. He wants his community to know that “if you find yourself in this situation, you don’t have to go at it alone.”
Jimmie notes plainly that he is the only male, and the only African American on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Alamance County planning committee. He believes that it is important that this committee represent more of the community that they serve. He hopes that his work for the 2020 walk season will raise awareness for “every sector of Alamance County.” His favorite part of his experience so far has been simply “letting people know about the walk and how they can get involved in this movement.” Jimmie has proudly volunteered to be the “megaphone” of the committee, connecting everyone involved. Jimmie’s pastoral calling has absolutely prepared him for this.
Hear directly from Jimmie below about his involvement in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.
Inspired by Jimmie’s journey? Everyone has a reason for walking. Start your own team or join an existing team for one of our nineteen North Carolina walks:
The world may look a little different right now, but one thing hasn’t changed: our commitment to ending Alzheimer’s.
When you participate in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, you’re part of a community that cares — and that community, which starts in your backyard and stretches across the country, has never needed us more. With the dollars we raise, the Alzheimer’s Association® can provide care and support during these uncertain times while advancing critical research toward methods of treatment and prevention.
Register today at alz.org/walk and be the first to know about Walk in your area.
2020 WALK DATES
Alamance County – 9.26.20
Asheville – 10.10.20
Charlotte – 10.17.20
Fayetteville – 10.31.20
Gaston/Cleveland/Lincoln – 9.12.20
Guilford County – 10.17.20
Henderson County – 9.26.20
Hickory – 10.24.20
Iredell County – 10.10.20
Jacksonville – 10.17.20
Moore County – 9.26.20
Mount Airy – 9.12.20
New Bern – 10.25.20
North Wilkesboro – 10.10.20
Robeson County – 10.24.20
Rowan-Cabarrus – 10.24.20
Triangle (Raleigh-Durham) – 10.10.20
Wilmington – 11.7.20
Winston-Salem – 10.3.20