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In My Community
The Makkos Family - Bowling for a Cure
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Tom Makkos (third from right) joins the family to celebrate daughter Jamie's wedding. 

“We need to raise money to put an end to this disease,” said Jamie Makkos Wolski, a vibrant young professional who learned about the harsh realities of Alzheimer’s disease the hard way.  More than ten years ago her then 55 year-old father Tom was diagnosed, in the prime of life, with Alzheimer’s.

It was a game-changer for the entire family.  Tom and wife Mary had planned to travel significantly.  But as Tom’s abilities declined, Mary became a full time caregiver.  She turned to the Alzheimer’s Association for information, education classes and support.  “Caregiving is very stressful,” said Mary.  “When God was passing out the patience, I should have asked for a little more.”

“My dad was so young,” said Jamie.  “He hasn’t been able to experience things.”  Some of those things being important life events, like the marriage of his daughter.  “My husband and I got married in Mexico and of course he wasn’t able to come” said Jamie.  “Later on he attended a courtroom wedding and a small reception at home, but it wasn’t him having his usual fun time.”

Alzheimer’s disease has also robbed Tom of the pleasure of getting to know his grandchildren and enjoy them.  Jamie has one child, with a second one on the way.  Her sister, Kelly Straus has three kids.   “My dad isn’t able to enjoy my three small children,” said Kelly. “He can’t babysit, feed them or hold them.”   Jamie said, “It is heartbreaking for my sister and me that dad doesn’t get to play with our kids.  He’s always been a very humorous and goofy guy.  At times that goofiness does come through, and it is a reminder that he is still our dad.”

In the last few years, Tom’s condition advanced quickly.  He became unable to continue living at home and now resides in the long term care facility at the Veterans Administration.  He is now wheelchair bound.  His wife, Mary, tries to spend time with him every day.  “Mom is doing O.K.” said Jamie.  “She is very strong.  She is THE person that my dad looks forward to seeing every day.  But it is hard for her.  And it is hard for my sister and I to see her reality – she doesn’t get to go on vacations, or have a date with the man she loves.”

The family, while devastated, has decided to turn this cruel twist of fate into an opportunity to end Alzheimer’s disease for future generations.  Over the past several years they have become advocates for Alzheimer’s research and support, and have raised more than $32,000 through annual family-run bowling tournaments and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. 

Daughters Jamie (left) and Kelly (right) join their mother Mary at the 2016 Makkos Family Bowling Fundraiser to Cure Alzheimer's 


 

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.