Each year brings its special gifts. For me, the greatest gift of the past year is the opportunity to know Reverend Darrell Prichard of Findlay and his amazing family.
My work role as a program officer for the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation allows me to partner with many nonprofit agencies and their various stakeholders: board members, staff, volunteers, and clients. These are people who are passionate about the missions of the organizations they represent: mental health, homelessness, hunger, mentoring, specific diseases, and more. More importantly, they are passionate about the people they serve. I once heard Pete Seeger refer to these types of servant leaders as people with the “live hearts, the live hands, the live eyes.”
About a year ago, I was sitting around a table with two staff members of the Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter discussing a very successful program funded by the Community Foundation: the Transitions group for individuals with a diagnosis of early stage dementia and their caregivers. Through this conversation an amazing story began to emerge, it was the story of Reverend Darrell Prichard of Findlay.
Most people know Darrell from his sixty years in the pulpit. Darrell retired as president of the Foundation of the Great Lakes Conference, Churches of God. Two years ago, Darrell received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Darrell considered withdrawing but bravely decided to begin a new ministry as an advocate for families affected by a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. His first act of courage was similar to President Ronald Reagan who sent a letter to the nation stating “I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.” Darrell sent a similar letter to every person he knew and to every church he had served. Then Darrell boldly launched his new ministry with a positive spirit.
Today, Darrell is an incredibly active advocate for families affected by a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. His days are filled with visits to politicians’ offices, fundraising for the upcoming Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and even serving as a presenter at trainings for Alzheimer’s professionals. Spring 2013 found Darrell on Capitol Hill talking to U.S. Senators Portman and Sherrod Brown and chatting for an hour with U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur, a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and U.S. Representative, Bob Latta. Darrell also traveled to the Statehouse to visit Ohio Senator Cliff Hite and Ohio Representative Robert Sprague. He presented at the regional Early Stage Dementia conference, Hancock Leadership, and the Ohio Association of Gerontology Education. Wherever Darrell speaks, a standing ovation is likely to follow.
In an attempt to share Darrell’s message far and wide, the Alzheimer’s Association is capturing Darrell’s courage in facing his diagnosis in a visual format. For the past six month, Ben Severance, a visual storyteller from New Hampshire who was trained at Western Kentucky University, the premiere photojournalism program in the country, has been creating a documentary about living with early stage dementia. 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.
Through this documentary, a local hero has found his voice and is sharing his courageous story with the millions of people who are living with Alzheimer’s disease throughout the country. The finished piece will be entered in film festivals, hosted on the Alzheimer’s Association website, the Minnesota Alzheimer’s 2020 website, and shared with people who are newly diagnosed with Alzheimer ’s disease and related dementia.
Wherever it lands, Darrell Prichard’s story of bravery, advocacy, and kindness will help break the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s disease, empower individuals living with this disease and their caregivers, and share a message of hope. Maybe best of all, we captured a little bit of Darrell’s magic.
Please join us for the world premiere of the documentary June 29, 2013. I would love for you to meet my very special friend, my best gift of the past year, Reverend Darrell Prichard.
June 29, 2013
Winebrenner Theological Seminary
950 N. Main Street
No admission fee
Light Refreshments will be served
In celebration of Darrell’s spirit of community, please bring family and friends