Paint Clover Purple 2021: Mayor Greg Holmes, Tina Goodgame, Dawn Helms, Laurie Waters and Aundi Hunter.
Just south of the North Carolina border in York County, SC, the Town of Clover is home to just over 5,000 people – and among those residents are some movers and shakers in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
It all started in 2017 when Laurie Waters was diagnosed with Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 52. “When they first told me, I said ‘Are you kidding me?’” Laurie recalled. “It was devastating news to hear. It was something I was not prepared for, and Alzheimer’s was a disease I knew little about.”
Determined to make a difference, Laurie got involved with the Alzheimer’s Association as an advocate and volunteer. She has served as a member of the Association’s national Early Stage Advisory Group, and she currently serves as the Association’s Ambassador to South Carolina’s fifth Congressional District. She also facilitates peer-to-peer programs for individuals living with early stage dementia.
Last year, Laurie had a great idea for an awareness event to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association event, The Longest Day
. Together with friends, family and local leaders they planned the first-ever “Paint Clover Purple” community event in June.
Despite facing challenges, “Paint Clover Purple” raised over $5,000 in its first year. When Laurie suffered a stroke in the weeks before the event, the Mayor of Clover, Greg Holmes, took up the reins and made sure that the show went on. Laurie recently presented Mayor Holmes with an appreciation award at a Town Council meeting, where the Mayor issued a proclamation recognizing June as Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month.
Mayor Greg Holmes (center), Laurie Waters (at his right) and Tina Goodgame (at his left) at Town Council meeting.
“Alzheimer's is important to me because this is what my grandmother passed away with 25 years ago. 25 years later, we are moving the needle but still don't have a cure for it. It affects all of us and together we can assist to find a cure,” said Mayor Holmes. “Working with Laurie and her resources, I feel as though I can help educate our community and state. This has become a passion of mine.”
This Saturday, June 25, the town will be at it again for the second annual “Paint Clover Purple, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the lot beside Boyd’s Tire and Appliance (110 North Main St, Clover). The event will include music, food, fun and food trucks. Over 15 different vendors will sell products with a percentage of proceeds benefiting the event. They will also sell t-shirts and do live drawings for prizes donated by businesses in town.
The event organizers hope to raise over $10,000 with this year’s event. Laurie’s daughter, Jessica Ersek, stepped up this year to spearhead sponsorships and media outreach. They have more vendors and sponsors than ever before, including the United Bank of Clover. Businesses in downtown Clover have also been incredibly supportive of “Paint Clover Purple,” with many hosting fundraisers or accepting donations in their stores throughout June for Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month.
While the entire community has rallied to support this effort, it is definitely Laurie’s enthusiasm and determination that inspires them.
“Prior to knowing Laurie, I was naive to the impact Alzheimer's disease has on those diagnosed. I watched my dear friend selflessly fight every day to not only live with this disease, but to educate and inspire others to get involved and never give up,” said Tina Goodgame, a community leader in Clover who is helping to plan the event. “Laurie has become family to me and seeing what she goes through daily living with Alzheimer's has encouraged me to fight for a cure. Laurie's determination to survive this life altering disease is so inspiring. I will continue to fight every day for my dear friend Laurie and the over five million others living with Alzheimer's.”
Ultimately, Laurie hopes to create greater awareness of Alzheimer’s and all dementia, to help others impacted connect with support and to be part of ending this disease for future generations.
“It is very important that the moment you start noticing signs to speak up,” Laurie said. “No matter how young or old you are, if you have concerns about your thinking and memory, get it checked. I waited longer than I should have, but getting diagnosed has given me a new direction and I continue to live a full life.”
Donate to support “Paint Clover Purple” through The Longest Day.
Check out our Early Stage Dementia Engagement Programs.
The Alzheimer's Association leads the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.™ For more information, visit www.alz.org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.