The Longest Day 2018
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Michelle Niedens
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Director of Education and Programs

My mother was smart, a good listener, a wise counselor and a solid citizen. I do not mean she went to work and mowed her lawn. I mean she believed that it was her absolute duty to be active in contributing to her world. She believed we are each born with an inherent obligation to one another. She lived her life with that purpose clearly central. I watched her advocate to strengthen education standards, preserve historical architecture, confront injustices, tutor international students and empower abused women to find a path to personal freedom. At home she taught her children to think, write, and question. Never did she have an easy road. She faced many tragedies in her life. Her health was compromised early on and she lived with chronic health issues that eventually lead to her death. Even through her difficulties, she remained focused on her purpose. You could not live with such a woman and not be inspired to follow her lead. Through her health issues, I also learned what it meant to be a caregiver and that a person’s true strength is never compromised by disease.

She inspired me to work in a field that addressed justice issues. She inspired me to work in a field where purpose can be found even in the most difficult of times. She inspired me to work in a field where I could run alongside to encourage someone to keep running. I found all those things in social work. I have worked with individuals with Alzheimer’s and their families for the past 33 years now. All I can say is the work really found me. The Alzheimer’s Association, Heart of America Chapter, has been an amazing place with the singular focus of helping families navigate all that is required in this disease. I have had the opportunity to work alongside many solid citizens – those facing the disease, families, and colleagues. I watch people do things that they never thought they could do, survive overwhelming challenges, and redefine their lives, just as I did as a child watching my mother.  



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.