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Mission Awards
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Mission Awards recognize outstanding volunteers

Every year the Alzheimer’s Association East Central Iowa Chapter recognizes individuals, businesses and groups who have worked wholeheartedly throughout the year to move the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association forward. Awards were given in April to celebrate National Volunteer Week in the eight selected categories: Fund Development; Advocacy; New Volunteer of the Year; Program Service; Service Club or Organization; Public Awareness; Walk SuperSTAR; and Volunteer of the Year.

Fund Development Mission Award:
Brian Laures and Big Ed's Beach Bash

Brain Laures and the Big Ed’s Beach Bash committee of dedicated volunteers made a big splash in 2012 by organizing, promoting and executing an exciting and lucrative fundraising event benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association East Central Iowa chapter. “Big Ed’s Beach Bash to End Alzheimer’s” attracted an estimated 700 people from the New Hampton area and raised an impressive $17,000 in it’s first year. The event required volunteer support from all over town and included a volleyball, bag toss and euchre tournament as well as kids activities, live bands, bingo and plenty of food and beverages. Brian and the Big Ed’s Beach Bash committee also made a point to offer educational opportunities to New Hampton residents prior to the fundraiser by hosting a Know the 10 Signs workshop.

Big Ed’s Beach Bash raised awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research and helped the East Central Iowa chapter reach a new audience. The committee is dedicated to creating a long-standing event that makes an impact in the fight against this devastating disease and their outstanding volunteerism and compelled the East Central Iowa Chapter to recognize them as the 2012 Fund Development Mission Award recipient.

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Public Awareness Mission Award: Jeni Grouws of KDEC Radio

Jeni Grouws is the Station Manager at KDEC Radio in Decorah and is also an on-air personality for their popular morning show.  Jeni has arranged for KDEC to be the official radio sponsor of the Northeast Iowa Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the past 3 years and consistently goes above and beyond the expectations.  Jeni offers numerous on-air radio interviews to help raise awareness about the Alzheimer’s Association’s programs, services and the local Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  During World Alzheimer’s Month she arranged for weekly interviews during the morning show – which created a wonderful buzz around northeast Iowa in the weeks leading up to the most successful Walk to date. 

Jeni is a well-known leader in the Decorah community and has gladly served as the emcee at the Northeast Iowa Walk to End Alzheimer's for the past 3 years.  She does an unbeatable job of setting the tone on Walk day by sharing her excitement and stressing the importance of the fight against Alzheimer’s.  Her enthusiasm about the Alzheimer’s Association, both on air and off, is contagious and she undoubtedly has played an important role in expanding the reach of the Alzheimer's Association in rural northeast Iowa. We thank all the KDEC radio staff members for their support in promoting the Walk to End Alzheimer's with a special thank you to Jeni Grouws for leading the way.

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Walk SuperSTAR Award: Ruth Swiderski

Ruth has participated in the Iowa City Walk to End Alzheimer’s for two years as the team captain of Team Compassion, a team which she formed in memory of her parents who both suffered from dementia before passing away.  Ruth recruited team members and raised funds by hosting multiple bake sales, contacting friends and family across the country, and spreading awareness about the vision of the Alzheimer’s Association.  In her first year, Ruth raised almost $1,371, leading Team Compassion to raising over $2,300!

Throughout her involvement in the Walk to End Alzheimer's Ruth has learned more about the Alzheimer’s epidemic and how she can help.  She volunteered to share her story as part of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s kickoff during the Promise Garden ceremony at the Iowa City Walk.  During this ceremony Ruch struck up a friendship with another Walk participant who is currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and she now visits her new friend once a week.  During their visits they read, play games, enjoy meals and enjoy a good laugh.  Ruth says that they have both gained something very special from their Walk experience.

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Outstanding Service Organization Mission Award: UNI Nonprofit Leadership Alliance

The time and energy dedicated by the student members of UNI's Nonprofit Leadership Alliance (NLA) has positively impacted the success of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Campus QUASH event.  This group of impressive young leaders worked diligently to plan, promote and execute the high-energy scavenger hunt through year-round marketing, recruitment and logistical work. NLA worked to raise awareness about the Alzheimer's Association and concern for Alzheimer's disease by educating their peers and going above and beyond to spread the word on campus.  Their hard work paid off with the record-breaking success of the 2013 Campus QUASH event which attracted 217 participants and raised over $17,000 for Alzheimer's care, support and research.

The Alzheimer's Association would like thank the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance for selecting the East Central Iowa Chapter as their partner organization and dedicating 500+ hours of service to the fight against Alzheimer's.  Special recognition goes out to the additional volunteerism and leadership of NLA's Community Service committee members, which formed the QUASH Planning Committee for 2012-2013.  The members include Allie Koolbeck, Megan Lidd, Zach Slocum, Brittany Ballentine, Tessa Stocker, Sarah Turner, James Tatman, Aubrey Marsh and interns Kenzie Bloom and Emily Greiner.

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Program Service Award: Connie Crosset

Connie Crossett has been a dedicated, long-standing support group facilitator in the southern portion of the East Central Iowa chapter territory. Connie makes every effort to provide the best possible experience for her support group attendees. She has brought in educational speakers on various subjects, enabling them to be knowledgeable about resources in their community. The group as a whole has created an unbreakable network of support with each other in and out of meeting times. Connie has been a consistent and dependable volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association, helping to create awareness in her community. Connie’s dedication to, and passion for supporting caregivers in the Washington area is an inspiration for volunteers across the chapter.

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Advocacy Mission Award: Senator Liz Mathis

The Alzheimer's Association recognizes Senator Liz Mathis for her ongoing support of a need for mental health reform. Senator Mathis introduced Bill SF269 and the helped pass a bill in the Senate for an act relating t the comprehensive Alzheimer's disease response strategy.  She also graciously participated a member of the panel in a local National Alzheimer's Plan Town Hall event which took place in Cedar Rapids in August of 2012.  During the event, members of the community were encouraged to share their personal perspectives on what is needed to provide support and hope for those directly affected by Alzheimer’s disease.  The East Central Iowa Chapter is grateful for Senator Liz Mathis' dedication to advancing the critically important dialogue of how best to change the trajectory of Alzheimer's disease.

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New Volunteer of the Year Mission Award: Gwen Elling

Gwen Elling has become an outstanding and dedicated support group facilitator. After her first support group meeting, Gwen realized the need was more than just support. She immediately got to work setting up respite care for the families attending her support group in Iowa City.  Gwen juggles the demands of coordinating care and facilitating the support group independently. She has served as the voice of the Alzheimer’s Association by assisting in the promotion of education programs and special events. Gwen also uses every opportunity she can to further dementia education for herself and her support group attendees. Gwen is continually striving to provide support group attendees with the best possible experience. Her dedication and passion for supporting caregivers in the Iowa City area is an inspiration for volunteers across the chapter. 

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Volunteer of the Year Award: April Holden

April Holden is truly an outstanding and dedicated volunteer, Walk to End Alzheimer's team captain, committee member and advocate for the Alzheimer's Association.  April is a respected leader on the Iowa City Walk to End Alzheimer's planning committee, and has gone above and beyond to help make the Iowa City Walk the best that it can be. Personally, April knows what a impact Alzheimer's disease can have on a family as she is currently fighting for her mother-in-law who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at the age of 64.

April was a key-member in this year’s Day at the Hill event where she spoke with local state and senate members about the need for an Alzheimer’s Bill in the state of Iowa.  She is a reliable and professional volunteer that is very passionate about this disease and the fight against it. April’s dedication and passion for The Alzheimer’s Association is an inspiration for all of us across the chapter.



The Alzheimer’s Association would like to thank each and every volunteer for their loyalty and dedication to the East Central Iowa Chapter. With their benevolent contributions and support, we are able to move closer to our vision of a world without Alzheimer’s. 

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Alzheimer's Association

Our vision: A world without Alzheimer's disease®.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.