When Honoring Grandparents Becomes A Career

Robeson County native Kesha Hunt has lost both her grandparents to Alzheimer’s disease. This immeasurable family loss might cause some to shut down or try to forget, but Kesha is a clear exception. Kesha uses her grief to inspire her own fight against Alzheimer’s, and bring her community on board with her. She is set on memorializing her grandparents in the most positive way possible, even preparing notes to keep the details of their lives straight when sharing their stories.

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Leroy Scott, Kesha’s grandfather, was heavily involved with local politics. He was a proud member of the Lumbee Regional Development Association’s Board of Directors. Lorraine Scott, Kesha’s grandmother, was both a professional and heavily involved in her local church, Saddletree Church Of God, teaching Sunday school for 41 years, never missing a Sunday service. Leroy developed Alzheimer’s first, after suffering a stroke. Lorraine developed the disease slower, and later in life. Kesha remembers their progressions vividly, “…repeating things, getting lost, leaving the stove and water on.” Eventually they were both unable to care for themselves and lived at Wesley Pines Retirement Community (at different times), the location of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Robeson County. After seeing her grandfather battle this disease, Kesha stepped up to care for her grandmother first at home and then took a job as staff for Wesley Pines so she could be closer and continue to check in.

While “every family is different” and “every disease is different” says Kesha, she did see a good bit of denial in her own family. When her grandmother started forgetting birthdays, a memory Kesha points to as being especially painful, it was brushed off as being “normal aging.” Kesha vowed to turn her pain into a career and a lifelong fight. Kesha’s family cared for her grandparents largely alone, so when Kesha was introduced to the services of the Alzheimer’s Association working for Wesley Pines, she jumped right in to do her part to rid the world of this disease and spread awareness to help other families.

Kesha’s first Walk to End Alzheimer’s was in 2012. That walk, will of course look very different this year. She typically walks with her “family and church family.” Kesha explains wistfully that her favorite moment on walk day is “the visual of families coming together to share this experience, see their different journeys, see people still fighting with overwhelming love.” While she might not get this visual this year, she will undoubtedly still feel this connection as her community walks separately “everywhere.” Kesha doesn’t exactly know what she will do this year on Walk day, due to the pandemic and wishing to keep her residents safe, but she knows on October 24 she will “put on her purple and take a walk in memory of [her] grandparents and in honor of those still living [with Alzheimer’s].” Kesha also fights Alzheimer’s every day at her job, referring families to Alzheimer’s Association support groups, the 24/7 helpline, and print resources. Throughout her whole fight, she takes care to emphasize that the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is so important to her “to further raise awareness and funding for future research treatment options and resources for families.”

When asked if there was anything Kesha especially wanted to highlight this year, she says simply, “we are doing the best we can. We are always fighting.”

LIKE KESHA 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

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