Grandmother’s Impact Provides Purpose for Local Executive

“Grandma Rose lived with us while we were kids,” shares Scott Horowitz of Burlington, North Carolina.  “Both of our parents worked, so she helped take care of us.” Rose was one of those individuals who never seemed to stop when it came to taking care of her family. From cleaning out the garage to working on special projects, Rose made quite an impact on Scott as a young man. So much so, that he elected to write a school report about role models on his grandmother.

Scott’s mother Bonnie started a clothing store in her basement in Long Island, eventually opening her own storefront called Bonnie’s in the 1980s. Rose helped Bonnie with the store as Scott and his siblings grew older. The shop was so successful that it grew into four locations, and Rose continued to work at the location within walking distance of where she lived. Scott recalls, “the customers loved Grandma Rose as she was just so upbeat and bubbly, and her work ethic was one of a kind.”

Whenever Scott came home from college, but even more so after graduating, he noticed some subtle changes in his grandmother’s behavior. “I would call her, and she would ask me when I’m coming back to New York. I’d respond that I wasn’t sure. We’d continue the conversation on another topic for a minute or two, and then she’d ask the same question.” Scott respectfully answered again as if she were asking for the first time, but realized that something was amiss.

Rose dressed meticulously and was always very organized. An early indication of her disease progression was that she often forgot to shower, and her personal hygiene began to slip. Scott thought back, “I remember my mom coming home and seeing a pile of bills on the table. It was as though Rose was procrastinating, but really, she could not remember how to write a check.” A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease came to pass, and Bonnie eventually became Rose’s caregiver. Even after she moved to a retirement community in the 1990s, she made sure Rose took her medication, ate her meals and bathed regularly. Scott notes that it was so hard seeing the once strong-willed, fiercely independent woman becoming so reliant on her daughter. In addition to Alzheimer’s, Rose had a heart attack and ultimately succumbed to cancer in 2000, a stark reminder of the reality of comorbidities. Later, both of Rose’s sisters developed dementia as well, highlighting the family’s genetic predisposition. 

While Scott’s family was not aware of the care and support services of the Alzheimer’s Association during Rose’s journey, his mom Bonnie has made a concerted effort to remain current on the variety of educational information the Association has available online to remain active and healthy herself. She has retired and lives in a senior living community in Florida. Experiencing firsthand what Alzheimer’s did to her mother’s life as well as her aunts’, Bonnie strives to keep her cognitive health as stimulated as possible.

Profession & Purpose Intersect

“I came to PRA Group at the very end of 2017, and one of the things I learned about the company is that they’re very generous about charitable giving” shared Scott who serves as vice president of operations at the global financial services company’s office in Burlington, North Carolina. “PRA Group encourages each of their locations to give back to the local community, both financially and through Volunteer Time.” Volunteer Time Off is a program designed to provide PRA Group’s workforce with paid hours to volunteer with nonprofit partners.

For the Horowitz family, the partner of choice was clearly the Alzheimer’s Association. During the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Alamance County, Scott served as one of the Opening Ceremony speakers. He reflected on how Alzheimer’s impacted not only Rose, but also his family as a whole. “Talking about my grandmother on stage and what she experienced was very emotional for me,” shares Scott. “As I was speaking, I began to think back to how the disease changed her later in life from being one of the most dynamic, quick-witted individuals I knew. To see the transformation right before my eyes was difficult.”  Equally as meaningful for Scott was the fact that his two sons Noah and Jonah participated in the 2018 Walk for the first time. They volunteered, walked and carried a purple flower in Grandma Rose’s memory during the Promise Garden Ceremony. Walk Day also provided the boys with an opportunity to learn a little bit about their great grandmother’s life, to help others and to also see firsthand how Alzheimer’s disease and all other dementia has impacted so many. 

Scott is proud to work for PRA Group and appreciates its support of the Alzheimer’s Association in hosting a team and sponsoring the Walk in Alamance County for many years. “With such high cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia prevalent, it’s likely that many of my team members have been directly or indirectly affected. It’s important to our company that they feel heard and assisted.” 

The organization’s support is also about uniting a team to make an impact and join in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. “We prioritize giving back to the communities where we live and work as well as building an equitable and inclusive culture. It’s part of our core values and who we are.” As a leader within PRA Group, part of Scott’s role is to ensure that the company is living out those core values and supporting each other day in and day out. He believes the staff truly embraces that. 

In 2021, PRA Group elevated their existing commitment to the Alzheimer’s Association by becoming a National Team for Walk to End Alzheimer’s. To honor the 25th anniversary of PRA Group, the company added $250,000 to its annual charitable giving budget and its employees voted on ten nonprofit organizations around the globe to receive the inaugural funds. The Alzheimer’s Association was one of the selected nonprofits, and the honor included PRA Group providing a virtual lunch and learn series that focused on the warning signs of Alzheimer’s. 

Scott is looking forward to joining the local PRA Group Walk team, which will be led by one of his managers, Brittany McMillian. Alzheimer’s Association staff is planning its first on site company kick off on July 22 to help educate employees about Alzheimer’s disease, the Association and how to form teams and fundraise for the Alamance County Walk on September 24. The team is organizing several fundraising initiatives over the next few months, including dress down days, should employees wish to participate. 

Scott has several favorite Walk Day moments. “The flowers are such a great way to tie everybody in, not only by calling out the color of the flower, but also knowing how we each have a personal connection immediately to that flower.” The people who hold the same color of flowers represent those who are going through the same thing or who are impacted in a similar way. Scott also remarks that seeing his colleagues smile and cheer the walkers through the finish line is as uplifting as those smiles on the walkers’ faces themselves.

Scott often revisits the memories of Grandma Rose that he shared during the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The memories he has of her at the end of her life are not the same as those throughout her life. But he will always think about the person he wrote the book report on — the strong, inspiring role model who shaped him as an individual. It’s why taking the time to celebrate his Grandma Rose’s life is so important.

LIKE SCOTT AND PRA GROUP, WE ALL HAVE A REASON TO FIGHT FOR A WORLD WITHOUT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE. Join your local Walk to End Alzheimer’s today as an individual, team, or sponsor.

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. Your health and safety are our top priorities. We will continue to closely monitor CDC, state and local guidelines to ensure Walk events adhere to the latest recommendations.

Alamance County9/24/2022
Guilford County10/15/2022
Henderson County9/24/2022
Iredell County9/24/22
Moore County10/1/2022
Mount Airy09/10/2022
New Bern10/22/2022
Unifour (formerly Hickory)10/29/2022
Triangle (Raleigh-Durham)10/15/22

Alzheimer’s isn’t stopping and neither are we.

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