From one to five years old, Raleigh resident Tedrick Kelly spent his days with his grandmother, Francine Johnson, as his parents worked. Active in her church, Johnson would take Kelly along as she volunteered visiting the sick in her congregation and helping the community. The rest of their days would be filled with wonderful memories like baking biscuits and tending to the chickens. “I was the last grandchild she kept,” said Kelly. “When I was with her, we would do all kinds of things. She would take me along for the ride.”
His grandmother was top of mind when he first got involved with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s years later. “I was working at Credit Suisse and attended the community organization fair they held,” said Kelly. “I wish I got the name of the gentleman who was at the Alzheimer’s Association table. It wasn’t a long conversation, but it was impactful. He told me about Walk and I signed up for the one that year.”
That first year, now almost a decade ago, Kelly walked on his own. In the years since he has created both work and personal teams. The personal teams are named in honor of his grandmother: Team Francine Johnson. Joining him are his wife, mother, sister, brother, three nieces and aunts and uncles who live in the area. “My grandmother had 11 kids, so our family is very large. At the time she passed there were 30+ grandkids and it’s even larger now,” he said. “We have Zoom meetings every month to keep in touch and I’ll ask for a few minutes to talk about the Walk there. Everyone knew Grandma and how involved she was in the community.”
Since becoming involved with the Walk, Kelly has also taken on numerous volunteer and subcommittee roles. This year he serves as the Recruitment Chair for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Triangle (Raleigh-Durham) taking place on October 9.
“As I started recruiting people for my teams, what surprised me the most is the amount of people that have a family member or know someone affected,” said Kelly. I wasn’t really aware as it’s still not talked about much. My current employer has an employee message board, and I was surprised the number of people who have reached out to me because of that. Many will say they have a mother or father who was recently diagnosed and ask for more information. It’s amazing who you can reach with a simple email blast or announcement to your employer or church.”
To Tedrick Kelly, the Alzheimer’s Association’s tenants in research and care are paramount. “Before my grandmother was diagnosed, we didn’t know what it was, just that she was doing things out of character. I know the family needs all the support they can get in the care category, especially in the final phase.”
“One of the things I owe my grandmother is to help fight this fight for her. It means the world if I can do something to help someone else’s grandmother,” said Kelly. “I Walk for her and for my family. She was the matriarch of a very large family and did so much. I feel like this is one thing I can do for her.”
LIKE TEDRICK, WE ALL HAVE A REASON TO FIGHT FOR A WORLD WITHOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE. Join your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s today.
The Alzheimer’s Association hosts 17 walks across North Carolina. The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Since 1989, the Alzheimer’s Association® mobilized millions of Americans in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk®; now the Alzheimer’s Association is continuing to lead the way with Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s.
We’re moving forward with plans to host the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® in person this fall. We are planning every Walk with the health and safety of our constituents, staff and volunteers as our top priorities. All events will implement safety protocols including physical distancing, masks (where required), contactless registration, hand sanitizing stations and more. We will continue to closely monitor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local guidelines to ensure Walk events adhere to recommendations and are safe for attendees, as well as offer options to participate online and in your neighborhood.
2021 NORTH CAROLINA WALK DATES
Alamance County – 9.25.21
Asheville – 10.9.21
Charlotte – 10.23.21
Fayetteville – 10.30.21
Gaston/Cleveland/Lincoln – 10.9.21
Guilford County – 10.16.21
Henderson County – 9.25.21
Hickory – 10.31.21
Iredell County – 9.25.21
Jacksonville – 10.16.21
Moore County – 9.25.21
Mount Airy – 9.18.21
New Bern – 10.23.21
Rowan-Cabarrus – 10.30.21
Triangle – 10.9.21
Wilmington – 11.6.21
Winston-Salem – 11.6.21
Where there’s a Walk, there’s a way.
Sarah is director of strategic accounts at Largemouth Communications, a full-service public relations firm based in Durham, North Carolina. She’s served on the marketing committee for Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Triangle since 2018.