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Volunteers are the heart of the Alzheimer’s Association. We are grateful for all of our dedicated volunteers who are passionate about putting an end to Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. Below are the stories of just a few of the outstanding volunteers at the Minnesota-North Dakota chapter.

Addison DettmanAddison.jpg

Sixteen-year-old Addison Dettmann has made Alzheimer’s and dementia a cause she continues to invest in. She lost her great-grandmother Marlene to Alzheimer’s when she was just six – and has participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Twin Cities for 10 years.

Last spring, Addison joined her mom, Sarah, in advocating for the Association’s public policy initiatives – even participating at the National Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C. It was topped off by a rally at the White House in which hundreds of participants successfully demanded that CMS cover new early-stage Alzheimer’s treatments. Addison says it was “empowering to see so many people wanting to help others.”

Addison attended Minnesota Alzheimer’s & Dementia Day at the Capitol in March and headed to D.C. again a few weeks ago to continue advocating with Congressional leaders. She said, “My hope is to see more young people support this cause, and for each and every person affected by Alzheimer’s to have the treatment and care they need.”

Gabi Del MoralGabi-Del-Moral.jpg

Actress, performer, and television reporter Gabi Del Moral had a little bit of experience with dementia when her childrens’ “Grandma Gayle” was diagnosed. At the time, very little was known about Alzheimer’s and dementia and the resources for people impacted. 
Much has changed in Gabi’s world since then. Last year, when the Alzheimer’s Association’s Minnesota—North Dakota chapter reached out to Spanish television Telemundo in Minnesota to develop some educational segments about the disease, Gabi was brought on to produce them.

In that time, she learned that Latino/Hispanic Americans are 1.5 times more likely than their White counterparts to get Alzheimer’s and other dementia. That statistic startled Gabi as a Latina.

"I realized that this was a cause I needed to become very active in as my community is hurting around this disease. I knew I needed to help shed light on Alzheimer's – that this is not a normal part of aging, there are lifestyle changes that can be made to reduce risk, and people need to talk with their doctors about their memory concerns." Early diagnosis is so important for people to have access to the best treatments," she says.

Now an Alzheimer’s Association volunteer, Gabi says, “I am all in.” She joined the chapter’s board of directors and became an advocate fighting for legislation to help families impacted by the disease. Last fall, she co-emceed the Walk to Alzheimer’s Twin Cities with Karla Hult.

“I will continue to amplify my voice so more people in my community understand this disease,” Gabi says.

Josh Gilleland

Josh Gilleland is a volunteer from the Fargo-Moorhead area. His involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association is extensive. A member of the Executive Leadership Walk Committee, he also generously donates digital advertising to promote the Fargo-Moorhead Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
Josh draws inspiration and drive from his grandparents, who raised him from a young age, despite living with disabilities of their own. Both dealt with Alzheimer’s disease later in life and passed away.
“Witnessing their struggles left a lasting imprint on me and has fueled my dedication to bettering the lives of those affected by Alzheimer’s,” says Josh. “The one thing I realized is that my story is not unique. I would love to one day find a cure or prevention so that my kids never have to experience the heartache I felt at a young age.”
In addition to his work with older adults as the director and owner of Griswold Home Care, Josh finds fulfillment in volunteer work with the Alzheimer’s Association. “Volunteering has allowed me to connect with a community that is equally committed to finding a cure and improving patient care,” says Josh.
He encourages others to get involved. “One of the key areas where we can make an impact is in raising awareness and increasing funding for Alzheimer’s research,” says Josh. “Public events, such as the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s, play a vital role in this and volunteering can be a powerful way for individuals to contribute to the cause. Every volunteer, every walker and every donor adds strength to our fight.”

Kelsey Krause
Smiling woman wearing cap and glasses

Kelsey Krause is a volunteer from Minnetonka, Minnesota. She lost her grandfather to Alzheimer’s disease when she was in junior high school, and both of her grandmothers are living with dementia. “As a young person, I wanted to be able to get involved in any capacity to fight the disease.”

Last summer, Kelsey volunteered as a member of the volunteer committee for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s® Twin Cities. She was introduced to the Alzheimer’s Association's Young Champions, a group of young leaders who fight for an end to Alzheimer’s through advocacy, education, and fundraising. “We think of Alzheimer’s disease as a disease that only affects older adults,” says Kelsey, “but it affects young people, too, whether you’re a caregiver, or whether you know someone living with Alzheimer’s.

As a fundraising co-chair for Young Champions, Kelsey helped to organize Bagz for Brainz, a bean bag tournament that raises funds for care, support, and research. The tournament, the largest event of the year for the group, was a great success. “The turnout was amazing, and we had over 25 teams registered this year,” says Kelsey. “We’re hoping that through word of mouth and other avenues, this event keeps gaining momentum.”

“I love the opportunity to get involved in any way, and my hope is that we do one day see a world without Alzheimer’s,” says Kelsey. “I hope that other young people see these opportunities and want to get involved as well.”

Bridgette Grobe
smiling young woman with long blond hair

Bridgette Grobe is a volunteer from Victoria, Minnesota. Her grandmother passed away in February, 2022, and lived with Alzheimer’s disease for over 20 years. Supporting her mother and her cousin as they cared for her grandmother and seeing her decline were deeply difficult for Bridgette. She became involved with the Alzheimer’s Association® to fight for an end to the disease and to help other families.

“I definitely want a cure for the disease,” says Bridgette. “I also love to see the amount of support going toward caregivers…because that’s huge, and the pandemic showed how much burnout there is.”

Bridgette became involved as a member of the Association’s Young Champions - a volunteer group of young leaders who fight for an end to Alzheimer’s disease through education, fundraising and advocacy. “Young Champions is really great because I can connect with others who have lived through this experience,” says Bridgette. “The vision is to bring everyone together and support each other, to learn more about the disease and to drive for change.”

As Young Champions fundraising co-chair, Bridgette helps organize events, including Bagz for Brainz. The annual bean bag tournament brings teams together in a fun competition while raising funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. The 2023 event on April 15 in Minneapolis raised $14,329, surpassing their $12,000 goal!

“I felt a lot of joy and gratitude from all the event participants and volunteers,” says Bridgette. “We all have been impacted by Alzheimer’s. You could tell the room was filled with compassionate people who wanted to fight for the cause.”

Cody Malik
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Cody Malik’s journey with Alzheimer’s began just over six years ago, when his mother, in her early 50s at the time, began showing signs of forgetfulness. Over the next two years, her symptoms worsened and visits to one primary care provider after another yielded no clear answers. A neuropsychologist finally diagnosed his mother with probable younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. “It was both a moment of great heartache and despair with a mixture of relief of finally being able to know for sure what was happening,” says Cody.
Through the years, Cody has worked tirelessly as part of the fight to end Alzheimer’s. He has been active with the Association’s Young Champions group, and participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s® Twin Cities. Cody, who lives in Minneapolis, has also served as an advocate, meeting with Minnesota policymakers on legislation to help families affected by Alzheimer’s and increase funding for research. He recently met with Congresswoman Ilhan Omar to discuss the lack of Medicare coverage for a new Alzheimer’s treatment, Leqembi.
Cody has a heart for families and caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia. “The biggest piece of advice that I can share with others who have been newly impacted by this disease is to take care of yourself,” says Cody. “There is nothing more important than making sure you are mentally and physically prepared to take on the challenges that Alzheimer’s will throw at you.”
Cody encourages families to reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association. “There is something special about sharing in community with others who are going through what you are going through, and you never know the impact you might have on others.”


Jim Dudley
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Jim Dudley knows a lot about running facilities for seniors and individuals in memory care. He has been doing it for a number of years including positions at The Rivers, Summit Hill and Ebenezer. In his current position with Aeon he manages affordable housing communities.

As Jim says, “I have learned much in the way of how to successfully manage business operations but, my greatest learnings are all about the importance/value of people and relationships. My purpose, my mission, my goal is to do what I can, every day, to have a positive influence on those whom I serve.”

Jim’s expertise comes in handy in his volunteer role on the chapter’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity committee where he has worked to create awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia among communities that are disproportionately affected by the disease - including people from Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, LGBTQ+ and rural communities.

The committee works to create lasting partnerships with community organizations and agencies serving underserved populations in the hopes of getting the message out about the importance of early detection and diagnosis, ways to reduce risks and Alzheimer’s Association services that can benefit families on a journey with the disease.  

Jim experienced the loss of his paternal grandmother to Alzheimer’s who he says received a proper diagnosis only in the last month of her life. “It is important to me to work on behalf of people who do not have equal access to healthcare because of their ethnicity, economic status or educational level– and to advocate for early testing and diagnosis.” His uncle and brother-in-law are also now living with the disease. “This is very personal to me and it is crucial I do something positive around dementia and Alzheimer’s.”

Illitch Diaz-Gutierrez

Illitch Diaz-Gutierrez, MD is a thoracic surgeon at the University of Minnesota and Assistant Professor at the Medical School. In his practice he started to notice more older patients experiencing memory issues– and, in some cases, family members who were not aware of the warning signs in their loved ones or who brushed off the condition as a normal part of aging.

“I realized that I did not know enough about dementia and Alzheimer’s and that I needed to learn more to be able to provide the best care to my patients,” he says. “I wanted to become a better advocate for people with dementia who might feel dismissed in our society.”

As a result, Ilitch researched the Alzheimer’s Association’s website and realized not only could he become more informed about the disease but he could also become involved as a volunteer too. He discovered he could teach others and dispel some of the misconceptions about the disease so he volunteered to be trained as a community educator. For more than a year he has taught community classes in Minnetonka, MN on such topics as “Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia” and "The 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s.” “I have really enjoyed the opportunity to meet people and share information about this disease that affects so many people in Minnesota,” he says.

Originally from Mexico, Ilitch says volunteering and being of service is an important value in his family. His father was a Hematology Oncologist working with the elderly and his mother cared for his aunt with cerebral palsy.

“I grew up with the idea that contributing where you see a need is an important thing to do,” he says. “Helping people understand dementia and Alzheimer’s and the ways one can reduce risk is a benefit to all of us as we age.”

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Jane Dolter and Mimi Stender are volunteers who live in the Duluth, Minnesota area. They closely partner to present Alzheimer’s Association caregiver support groups together. These groups are spaces where people caring for loved ones can learn, find comfort and share their stories with others in similar situations.

Involved since 2016, Mimi has been engaged with the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota in many ways over the years. She advocated for Alzheimer’s and dementia funding and research by meeting with her legislators, participated and tabled at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and even funded a nonprofit to meet local needs called Duluth Aging Support. 

Jane became involved with the Association as a volunteer in 2017. Says Mimi, “Jane is an advocate for the Alzheimer's Association and an involved community leader.” Jane started facilitating the western Duluth caregiver support group initially, and joined forces as co-facilitator of the western and eastern groups with Mimi in 2019. 

Says Mimi, “we really are a duo. Jane makes the sessions so much better and says the most meaningful things to caregivers. She is my Ethel, and I’m her Lucy.”

Denise Loftesne

When Denise Loftesnes' parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer's just weeks apart, a year ago, in Bismarck, North Dakota, Denise, and her husband lived in southern California. Denise and her eight siblings sought the services of the Association in virtual family care consultations and working with a staff social worker who helped them best meet the needs of their parents. Association resources supported their primary goal to keep their parents safe and living together in their present home.  

Now, Denise and her husband have relocated back to her hometown to be closer to her parents and help them maneuver the diagnosis. "Thrive, not just survive, is how I am approaching my life these days. I am here to make sure Mom and Dad are safe and happy, as they were always so good to us."

Denise is also volunteering her time with the Association helping other families navigate through the Alzheimer's journey. She teaches community classes on such topics as "Effective Communications" and "Understanding Alzheimer's," as well as running a resource group, "Memory Cafe," once a month at the local library for families impacted by dementia. Denise will participate in the ND Congressional Delegation on behalf of the Association. Soon, she will be starting a new position as community resource director for United Way. As an Association volunteer giving back, she says, "I am leaning into a love I didn't know was possible. There is peace in my heart now."

Beth Bjerke

Beth Bjerke first became connected to the Alzheimer’s Association when she was looking for resources in 2014, after her mom was diagnosed with the disease.  
When she happened to see an Association table at a local farmer’s market in 2019, Beth registered on-the-spot for her first Alzheimer’s Walk to End Alzheimer's event in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Soon, she joined the planning committee. “I really enjoy Walk day. It is about more than the fundraising. It is about the community, the programming, and coming together with other families,” she said.
Over the years, Beth has become a fierce advocate for people experiencing Alzheimer’s and dementia by speaking with her legislators to raise awareness and expand funding for local programs and research. She notes, “Rural challenges are different. There is a lack of resources, such as adult day care or memory care sites. I am trying to get more people involved to bring awareness and resources.”
Today, Beth is a member of the Minnesota-North Dakota chapter board of directors as well as Chair of the Walk committee for this year's Grand Forks Walk while managing her career as Associate Dean and Professor at University of North Dakota’s College for Aerospace.