Even though his formal education did not extend beyond the fifth grade, Charlie Pruitt’s unwavering work ethic persevered to nearly the end of his life. He built pianos for Kohler & Campbell for over 45 years until they filed for bankruptcy in the 1980’s. “Daddy did not think twice about walking three miles in the snow to go work,” shares Gina Jenkins of Hickory, N.C. “He never missed a day.”
Upon the company’s bankruptcy, Charlie joined a polymer company in Hickory that made car parts and worked there until a stroke in 2000. “I was a general contractor living in Martha’s Vineyard at the time,” adds Gina. “I guess you could say that I was the son that Daddy never had. He taught me how to clean guns, work on lawn mowers…” This skill set came to good use as Gina played a vital role in making her dad’s home more handicap accessible.
“When you stop, you will die,” had always been Charlie’s mantra, but his behavior changed considerably. “We initially thought it was related to the stroke, but daddy became obsessive over things,” offers Gina. “He would clean the headlights of all the cars in the driveway and swept the carport up to 20 times.”
Unfortunately, Charlie had a bad fall at home and injured his foot. He was diabetic which further complicated the healing process. Three foot surgeries later, Charlie became less mobile and subsequently ‘stopped’ in his mind. It became evident that the family would need to move him to Glenbridge, a skilled nursing facility, in Boone, NC. “The folks there were amazing,” adds Gina. “There was one nurse in particular that daddy would listened to, and we considered her to be a true blessing.” Charlie would remain at Glenbridge until his passing.
It was during this time in 2015 that Gina became involved with Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Hickory. “Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the most compelling, real, in-your-face event,” emphasizes Gina. “Even more so when you are on the outside and experiencing it for the first time.” Gina’s family formed, Team Charlie’s Angels. “I remember it had been rescheduled that year due to the weather. My daddy passed away on Wednesday, October 21, 2015.” The Walk would take place just days after. Gina recalls the walk was held that Saturday, and said it was a perfect day. “We felt like everyone at the walk was a tremendous support to us. While we had not yet held daddy’s funeral, the walk gave us what we needed to tell him good-bye.”
“Every part of Walk day is my favorite part,” laughs Gina. “The Sigma Kappa sorority does a great job in getting everyone hyped up through their dancing [in a normal year]. I know I can’t dance, but that certainly doesn’t stop me!” Gina confirms that the Promise Garden Ceremony is her ‘most favorite’ part of walk day in that she enjoys listening to each story, witnessing the sea of color and observing the array of facial expressions.
This year Gina is the Event Chair of the Hickory Walk taking place on October 24. Like everyone, the pandemic has changed how she has approached fundraising this year. Gina has had success within her Facebook friends sphere of influence in fundraising efforts this year, already raising more than $1,100. “I know that COVID-19 has created financial hardships for us, some more than others; however, I ask those who are not able to donate to please register and walk.”
Gina even penned a poem to motivate others to get involved this year. The starting stanzas are below, and watch the video to hear Gina perform the full poem.
This year is strange, you know what I mean?
But Walk Day’s still happening, despite Covid 19!
The Walk may look different but the message’s the same.
We’re in it to win it! There’s memories to reclaim!
Will you join us in walking? If so, get signed up!
You can walk alone, with your family, with me, or your pup!
Registering is easy, so get up and get going.
I’ll drop you the link at the end of this poem!
The Walk is everywhere, in this crazy twenty-twenty.
You’ll see flowers and flags and purple a-plenty!
We’re raising awareness, we’re praying for a cure,
We’re determined and relentless, our cause will endure!
LIKE GINA WE ALL HAVE A REASON FOR WE ARE FIGHTING FOR A WORLD WITHOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE. Start your own team or join an existing team for one of our nineteen North Carolina Walk to End Alzheimer’s events:
The world may look a little different right now, but one thing hasn’t changed: our commitment to ending Alzheimer’s. This year, Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is everywhere — on every sidewalk, track and trail. Your health and safety are our top priorities. We won’t have a large in-person gathering — instead, we invite you to walk in small teams of friends and family while others in your community do the same. Because we are all still walking and fundraising for the same thing: a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.
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 join the movement.
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