Inside Gray: A Team Member’s Commitment to a Greater Good
By 2050, nearly 14 million people are projected to be living with Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined! These shocking statistics, provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, and personal experiences of the disease affecting her loved ones are reasons why Rita Clark, Application Support Specialist and Gray’s Alzheimer’s Team Captain, is committed to the fight to end Alzheimer’s.
“Prior to my Mother’s diagnosis in 2006, our family had experienced other members with this disease,” said Clark. “And since 2006, I have known several friends, fellow Gray team members and other families who have been grievously impacted by it,” she continued.
Participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s, an event that raises awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s patient care, support and research, joining in on “The Longest Day” and mindfully raising awareness year-round, Clark believes it is important to educate and inform the public in order to reduce the astounding statistics.
Since 2006, with Clark’s leadership, Gray has participated in the Association’s Walk. Additionally, Gray participates in Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month (ABAM) in June and National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in November each year. “Watching how the number of individuals participating has grown each and every year brings both warmth to my heart and tears to my eyes,” Clark added. This cause is personal for many at Gray, as several team members also have loved ones that are or have been affected by the disease. In fact, Gray’s co-founder and the Gray family matriarch Lois Howard Gray lost her courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease on March 19, 2012.
According to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, the disease can begin to develop as much as 20 years prior to symptoms of dementia become evident. The steps to maintaining brain health are quite similar to maintaining heart health and avoiding cancer and other diseases. “It revolves around healthy eating, exercise and participating in activities that stimulate the brain,” Clark explained.
Research has indicated that those with a higher level of education and who remain socially and mentally active throughout life may reduce the risk of the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association encourages adults to regularly participate in mentally challenging activities, “such as learning a new skill, adopting a new hobby or engaging in formal education, may have short and long-term benefits for [the] brain.”
While her efforts did not prevent her mother from such a disheartening diagnosis, Clark’s affiliation with the Alzheimer’s Association broadened her knowledge of the disease in order to provide her the best possible support, and she is grateful for the support of the Association and the Gray family along the way.
Join the Gray team for the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® at the Fayette County Courthouse in Lexington, Ky. on September 21st. Registration begins at 9 a.m., the ceremony at 9:45 a.m. and the walk at 10 a.m. Our goal this year is $2,500, and we appreciate any and all support!
For more information on the disease and how you can get involved, visit https://www.alz.org/.