“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”Dr. Seuss
Perhaps the sentiment is a bit elementary for a group of promising high school students, but it rings true when referring to a set of youth from our community who clearly care a great deal.
“We’re passionate about raising awareness and fundraising for pathological diseases,” begins Future Leaders of Science & Pathology (FLSP) Club founder Laksha Ramkumar, a junior at Butler High School in Matthews, North Carolina. “Most people don’t realize that Alzheimer’s disease is considered pathological as it’s not something like the common cold or transmitted via virus or bacteria; nonetheless, it’s devastating when someone is diagnosed with it.” Laksha and her fellow club members share a passion for future healthcare professionals within their high school’s student population exceeding 2,100. Even though there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, FLSP members want to find a way to help fundraise for the Alzheimer’s Association and heighten its awareness in the community. While the club is only a year old, its membership consists of around 50 underclassmen with interest steadily growing. “There’s two types of people in our club,” adds Laksha. “There’s people that know that they’re set on healthcare, and then there are people that don’t know what career they want to go into. So it’s a really good place for students that are interested in science and medicine.” Laksha explains that the time they spent thus far has primarily focused on getting organized. Their focus this year, however, is determining which events they want to become involved with to use as a platform and expand their participation.
While Laksha feels fortunate enough to not currently have a family member that has been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, she shares that many of her friends and people in her life within the school have such as grandparents, aunts and uncles. She recalls her first hands-on experience in meeting someone living with Alzheimer’s disease was visiting her friend’s grandmother while in middle school. “I had no clue what it [Alzheimer’s] was at the time,” offers Laksha. “I felt sorry for her, but I didn’t know that much about it.” Laksha proceeded to research all about Alzheimer’s disease when she got home that evening. It was shocking to her to realize how one’s life could flash before their eyes and what a devastating disease it really is. She compared it to a cold having short-term impact on the respiratory system, but yet with Alzheimer’s, there’s currently no cure which makes her far more sympathetic to someone who essentially forgets everything they worked and lived for. Subsequently Laksha spent some time taking care of her friend’s grandmother and visiting with her. She admits that it was hard to learn at such a young age as she did not realize the impact of living with Alzheimer’s disease could have on an individual, but at the same time, the more she understood, the more passionate Laksha has become in supporting the cause.
Through Laksha’s research, Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Charlotte surfaced as an ideal platform from which the club can make an impact. She noted that there are numerous walks in the community; however, the Charlotte Walk’s website offered an uplifting vibe with lots of energy and seemed like the best fit for what their club wanted to target. Since the school year is new and the club recently made the decision to participate in the Walk for the first time, Laksha admits that they are getting their team organized and are filling in the details along the way.
In addition to participating in the Charlotte Walk on October 22 at Truist Field, the club plans to host its own fundraiser in November (prior to the Thanksgiving holiday). They’ve contacted the principal and plan to invite not only the students, but anyone who is interested in supporting the event. In working with their Charlotte Walk Staff partner, their plans include providing Alzheimer’s T-shirts to the participating school board members, making banners and also giving other school clubs the opportunity to get involved. Laksha notes that many students are already talking about the November event and are excited about participating. The funds raised from the school’s November event will be donated to the Charlotte Walk as well, and works perfectly since funds for Walk to End Alzheimer’s are collected through December 31.
Laksha uses the Alzheimer’s Association website for its abundance of information on all levels. She appreciates the authenticity of its evidenced-based materials and uses it while presenting slide shows within the FLSP to educate the members on Alzheimer’s disease. “Research is a major part of the mission,” offers Laksha. “We’re not going to get anywhere regarding a cure unless we work more and more toward research, and we try to the best of our ability using the technology we have to figure out more about Alzheimer’s until we get the cure.” She also believes care and support are an integral component of the Association’s mission. Supporting people, uplifting them and giving them a platform means a lot to Laksha and her peers. She believes the club’s work with the Alzheimer’s Association (Charlotte Walk Team and Butler’s November event) will provide those students an opportunity to help in a way they would not otherwise be able to do. “We have a lot of passion for people with Alzheimer’s, not just like helping them, but making sure they’re living their best lives with what they have.”
Planning to don purple hair and tutus, Laksha and the other members of her club are really looking forward to the upcoming Charlotte Walk. Even though they’re not quite sure what to expect with their inaugural team appearance, they’re confident it will be a fun experience. The team is particularly excited about seeing the people they don’t know, seeing them in their element and witnessing all those coming together to support the cause as being a very powerful moment.
With a group like these students from Butler, brimming over with passion and potential, the promise of the world getting better is a strong one.
LIKE LAKSHA & HER CLASSMATES, 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.
|Unifour (formerly Hickory)||10/29/2022|