One Thing Leads to Another

Alzheimer's Walk 2012: Findlay Ohio

Alzheimer’s Walk 2012: Findlay Ohio

(Please note this is posted on the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation website at http://community-foundation.com/category/blog/.  This is a piece I wrote for work.)

Last summer, we had a chat with two staff members of the Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter:  Salli Bollin, Executive Director, and Marty Williman, Education Manager.   Gathered around the board table at the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation, we were discussing a very successful program: the Transitions group for early stage Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.

Marty Williman, who facilitates the Hancock County Transitions group, shared wonderful stories:  outings to local parks, networking opportunities for caregivers, and poignant comments from Alzheimer’s patients.  From the Foundation perspective, the Transitions program was a great investment as it had definitely improved the quality of life in our community.

As the success stories continued, a very special Transitions participant was mentioned:  Reverend Darrell Prichard.  According to Marty Williman, Darrell was an incredibly active advocate for Alzheimer’s patients and their families and had an Alzheimer’s diagnosis himself.  As the Darrell Prichard story unfurled with details about days filled with visits to local politicians’ offices, fundraising for upcoming Alzheimer’s walks, and even serving as a panelist at trainings for Alzheimer’s professionals, my mind began to race.  I knew this story was magic and, more importantly, I knew it was local magic.  Who better than the Community Foundation to find a way to capture the story of a true local hero?

We began to brainstorm with Salli and Marty about their interest in capturing Darrell’s courage in facing his diagnosis in a visual format.  In a serendipitous series of events, we found ourselves sitting in a room with Ben Severance a few weeks later.  Ben is a young visual storyteller from New Hampshire who was trained at Western Kentucky University, the premiere photojournalism program in the country.  Ben came with a portfolio of beautiful work, most notably the now famous molasses video and top-notch references to match.

The Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter decided to partner with Ben to create a short documentary about Reverend Prichard and the Foundation board supported that work with a $14,000 grant.  The documentary will chronicle the adversities that Darrell faces and how he overcomes those obstacles to continue a lifetime of service that he has refocused on Alzheimer’s advocacy.  The cast of characters will include Darrell’s loving family and his multitude of friends.

The finished piece will be entered in film festivals, hosted on the national Alzheimer’s Association website, the Minnesota Alzheimer’s 2020 website, and shared with people who are newly diagnosed with Alzheimer ’s disease.  There will be a world premiere of the documentary on June 29, 2013 in Findlay, Ohio.  Wherever it lands, Darrell Prichard’s story of bravery, advocacy, and kindness will help break the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s disease, empower caregivers, and share a message of hope with newly diagnosed individuals.  Maybe best of all, we captured a little bit of Findlay magic.

Remember, that this is the ultimate pay it forward story.   Generous end of life gifts from Anna Van Gorder and George Countryman created funds at the Community Foundation.  In 2012, the proceeds from those funds were used to fund a grant to the Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter, to start an early stage Alzheimer’s group in Hancock County.  Thanks to the generosity of Anna Van Gorder and George Countryman, a local hero has found his voice and is sharing his courageous story with Alzheimer’s patients throughout the country.

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