Delaware Valley Chapter Happenings:
New Montgomery County Office Opened March 7, 2013: The Alzheimer's Association re-opened its 9th office on March 7th in King of Prussia, PA. This opening marks our commitment to increasing and expanding our existing services offered in Montgomery County. Thank you to all who came out for the grand opening!National Awareness: Actress and Alzheimer's Champion Marilu Henner has joined the cast of NBC's "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice" to compete to raise funds for the Alzheimer's Association.
Local Advocate and Author in the News: Local author Kerry Luksic shares her experience on the Chapter's Run to Remember team with Maria Shriver and her readers on Maria's blog. Click here for more information.
A conversation with Board Member Chris Gruber
This spring, Claire Day, Vice President Constituent Services, had the opportunity to sit down with Board Member Chris Gruber and chat about his experience with the Alzheimer’s Association, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and his hope for the future.
CD: How did you first get connected to the Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter?
CG: When I was working in Boston I connected with the Massachusetts Chapter and began volunteering on their Walk committee, so when I moved back to Philly in 2007 I reached out to Kathryn DiSalvo at the DVC. She immediately signed me up for the committee!
CD: What made you reach out to the Association?
CG: In 2004 my father was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. I was living far away, my parents are here in Philly and I was in Boston. I wanted to reach out to an organization that could give me answers, but also that I could give back to do something.
CD: So you were connected to the Walk committee?
CG: Yes, Walk seemed like a logical place for me to be. It’s the largest advocacy, awareness and fundraising event for the Chapter. It was where I knew I could actually make a difference.
CD: What do you primarily do for the Walk Committee?
CG: I’m the logistics chair for the Philadelphia Walk Committee, so I basically help with set up layout, safety, walk route, that kind of stuff. All the behind the scenes things that creates the event experience.
CD: What is your favorite part of the Walk experience?
CG: After the opening ceremony, as the walkers begin to walk – taking those first steps to end the disease. There is nothing better than seeing 10,000 walkers in a long continuous line. Last year my sister, Cherie went to the observation level at Citizens Bank Park and took some amazing photos of the crowd. It was inspiring.
CD: How have you seen Walk change over the years?
CG: Well, the biggest change is the name, Walk to End Alzheimer’s. it tells us where we want to go and really is a motivator for people WITH the disease. I also like the inclusion of the Promise Garden in the ceremonies. It is a visual reminder of why everyone is walking.
CD: Since you’ve been volunteering for so long, what do you see as the greatest challenge in the Alzheimer’s community?
CG: Stigma and awareness for sure. Certainly, for our family, because Dad is so young, people don’t understand that he can have Alzheimer’s. I constantly reminded in my volunteer work of the scope of how many families this disease impacts in our community. Too many people learn about it too late.
CD: You’ve worked at Morgan Stanley for some time now. Tell us about their involvement in the Walk.
CG: Morgan Stanley has embraced our cause and is proud of the fact that they’ve been able to support my efforts at a larger giving level through the company’s foundation. Here in Philadelphia they’ve allowed me to help educate others at the office about how they can get involved at the Chapter. That also opens the door to talk about support, care and services. We know every company has employees who are trying to balance work, home and caregiving. I’ve become known in the office as the go-to person for Alzheimer’s, a confidant to my colleagues.
CD: What can other businesses do that may be reading this?
CG: Well, the easiest way is to become a member of the Alzheimer’s Workplace Alliance (www.alz.org/awa). This free program gets people access to information, support services, training for employees and is a great way to show your company supports an organization that is truly making a difference.
CD: If everyone reading this newsletter could do one thing to help your father and the 294,000 people in our region with Alzheimer’s or a related disorder, what would it be?
CG: LEAD THE WAY… join a walk team, start a walk team. This is our largest opportunity to raise funds and awareness for the Chapter. We’ve added a 6th Walk this year and we can truly make an impact with a huge Walk season. My goal is to make the Philadelphia walk a million dollar walk this year and we can’t do it without the community!