John Wesley Singleton, Sr. worked very hard most of his life. “As long as I can remember he always had two jobs,” adds John Singleton, Jr. of Kernersville, N.C. “He worked for a lock and key company in Philadelphia which is where we are from, and all four of my siblings were born. Like a lot of African American families we moved from the South to the North for better employment opportunities.” John Sr. also worked as a tv repairman. He would work all day on one job and then well into the night at the other. “We didn’t see that much of him, and he didn’t really have any hobbies, as he didn’t have much spare time.” John [Jr.]’s mother Irene did not work outside the home until later in her life. “She stayed at home to take care of us, which was common during that era. Dad was the breadwinner for the family, and he did a fabulous job.”
“My father had dementia and passed away in 2000,” shared John. Upon retiring he and his wife returned to their family’s homeplace in Ridgeway, South Carolina. The family soon realized that they needed to move their Dad to a memory care community. Prior to making that decision, he lived with his daughter (John’s sister) in Georgia and then his sister in South Carolina, but his condition became such that for his own safety (he began to wander frequently) they believed it was best that he have adequate full-time care.
“I was living in North Carolina when my parents moved back to my grandparent’s farm in Ridgeway. I would see them every few months and would mostly travel down to their farm that we enjoyed so much when we were kids.” John noticed that his mother’s level of frustration began to increase with his father. “For example, Dad would go run an errand and then have trouble finding his way back, or he would misplace items. We sought medical attention and he was diagnosed with early stages of dementia but his condition continued to deteriorate.” John adds that while his father never received an official Alzheimer’s diagnosis, his behavior was such that the family knew he wasn’t going to improve. “Our family tried to cope with his condition and best figure out what we could do for his care to be sure he wasn’t a danger to himself or someone else.”
“I had a lot of long phone conversations and in person meetings with my siblings concerning our father and no one ever mentioned the Alzheimer’s Association,” admits John. I wish we had been aware of it 21 years ago. Our family pretty much relied on ourselves and the medical experts [who treated him] as to what we could best do for his care. We didn’t reach out for any resources, but rather, managed it from within the family.”
“I got involved with the Alzheimer’s Association through Laura Banasiewicz who is chairing the 2021 Winston Salem Walk Committee,” shared John. “I’ve known Laura for close to twenty years as she’s been my financial advisor with Allegacy Investment Group. She asked me if I would participate, and I trust her not only in the realm of financially consulting but pretty much everything else. A lot of times when you decide to get involved with something, it is as much the matter of who asked you to get involved.” John adds that Laura did share her personal connection to the disease which he found to be very touching and profound upon his recruitment. “Laura has been through a lot because of this disease as many of us have.”
While this may be John’s first year of involvement with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Winston-Salem and the Alzheimer’s Association, he’s embraced the task of marketing and outreach — in other words, figuring out how to best spread the word about the organization within the community. “I’m making sure that we’re distributing the promotional materials to all size businesses, medical communities, restaurants, barber shops and even car washes. No one has said ‘no’ when I’ve asked to leave the walk materials behind, which I believe is very encouraging!” asserts John. It has been an eye opening experience for John in that he’s realized how widespread Alzheimer’s disease is through his conversations with individuals while leaving behind the Association’s materials.
“Back when my father was living with dementia, I didn’t know enough to know what type of questions to ask to try and help him,” says John. “This organization does such a great job with outreach and sharing information about the walks and the organization.”
John believes there’s so much value in letting people know that they do not need to ‘deal with the disease’ (caring for someone who lives with the disease) alone and there is always something that they can talk to. “The wide variety of resources that the organization provides can be very helpful to everyone, and we cannot not raise enough awareness about them.”
John shares that the pandemic has created challenges for all of us in many ways, particularly shining a light on mental health and wellbeing through the past eighteen months. The fact that there is an Association willing and able to help loved ones and their families who have been additionally impacted by Alzheimer’s should offer some sense of relief.
John has participated in prior charitable endeavors as well as the March of Dimes through his fraternity. He is especially looking forward to walking in Winston-Salem on November 6 and has already made a contribution. “I’ll be there on November 6th with bells and whistles on.”
LIKE JOHN, 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