June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, and the Alzheimer’s Association® needs you to get involved and raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Everyone who has a brain is at risk to develop Alzheimer’s, a disease that is often misunderstood. Did you know:
- Alzheimer’s is fatal. It kills more than breast and prostate cancer combined.
- Alzheimer’s is not normal aging. It’s a progressive brain disease without any cure.
- Alzheimer’s is more than memory loss. It appears through a variety of signs and symptoms.
During the month of June, the Alzheimer’s Association asks you to learn more about Alzheimer’s, share your story and take action.
Ways to participate in June:
- Learn and share the facts about Alzheimer’s at alz.org/abam.
- Discover how to go purple — the color of Alzheimer’s awareness — on Facebook, Twitter and more!
- Come out to the Blondes vs. Brunettes team fundraisers on June 3rd. Brunettes are having a car wash from 1-4 PM & the Blondes are hosting a fundraiser at Submarine House in Hilliard from 2-6 PM.
- Join us at the Columbus Clippers game on June 5 for Alzheimer’s Awareness Night.
- Join or donate to The Longest Day® — a collection of events held on or around June 21 to honor those facing Alzheimer’s with strength, heart and endurance. Visit the Alzheimer’s Association, Central Ohio Chapter site to find a calendar of public events near you in which to participate or start your own team!
- Come out to Blondes vs. Brunettes Columbus on June 24th at St. Francis DeSales High School.
- Attend a local fundraiser or awareness event in your community. You can find out what is going on in Central Ohio here.
- Join the ladies of the Central Ohio Chapter for Women Who Walk: Healthy Happy Hour every Wednesday in June from 5 – 6:30 PM.
- Educate yourself on the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease at alz.org/10signs.
- Learn how you may keep your brain healthy as you age at alz.org/10ways.
- Attend an education program offered through the Central Ohio chapter to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease.
You can help raise awareness of the truth about Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org/abam to get started.
Our April member spotlight is shining on Maya Gosztyla, who has been involved with the Junior Committee for close to 2 years.
Maya is an undergraduate student at Ohio State University studying Neuroscience and Molecular Genetics and is currently serving as the President of Buckeyes Against Alzheimer’s, an undergraduate organization at OSU that focuses on awareness and community service with the mission to combat Alzheimer’s disease.
Read more about Maya below:
How long have you been involved with the Junior Committee and what compelled you to join?
I’ve been involved for nearly two years now. As a future neuroscientist, I spend a lot of time talking to other scientists and students about Alzheimer’s disease. The JC offered the opportunity to connect with another group of passionate individuals who worked behind the scenes on advocacy and fundraising.
How do you serve as a member of the Junior Committee?
At the beginning of every meeting, I take 5 minutes to give the Mission Moment, which is a quick summary of any recent discoveries in Alzheimer’s disease research. This is one of my favorite parts of being on the JC because I get to help everyone keep informed about the research without them needing to pore over these dense science manuscripts. I’m also part of the Recruitment Committee for BvB and I help out with the BvB social media posts.
You’re traveling abroad this summer for a research program; can you tell us about the program & what you will be doing?
This summer, I will spend three months in Lausanne, Switzerland conducting research at EPFL’s Brain Mind Institute. I was fortunate enough to receive funding from both the university and the U.S. Embassy of Switzerland that will allow me to afford this amazing experience. I will be researching the relationship between sleep deprivation and Alzheimer’s disease using mice as the model organism. We are hypothesizing that old brains respond differently to sleep deprivation than young brains, which may put them at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. I am so excited to undertake this adventure and possibly make some interesting discoveries!
What do you do in your spare time?
While I definitely indulge in some mindless TV on occasion, usually I like to fill my spare time with things that keep my mind and/or body active. I play the violin in an orchestra on campus and love practicing my favorite tunes. I’m a big lover of exercise (when I have time for it) so on good-weather days you’ll often see me jogging around the Oval or doing some calisthenics. Another hobby of mine is cooking, which is a lot easier said than done when you’re working with a student’s shoestring budget while trying to eat as healthy as possible. At the end of every day, I love curling up with a good book to relax before bed. Currently I’m working my way through Game of Thrones..
If you could spend a day with any one person, who would it be and why?
This is going to sound super geeky, but I’d really love to spend a day with Dr. Robert Tanzi, an Alzheimer’s researcher working at Harvard. He has some really interesting theories about the true cause of the disease and he’s not afraid to risk his reputation by putting some unconventional ideas out there. His lab has done some fascinating work trying to connect invasion of heavy metals in the brain with the process of neurodegeneration, as well as investigating whether brain infection could possibly play a role. I also deeply respect Dr. Tanzi because of his willingness to engage with the public and help educate people about his science. I might even look into his lab for graduate school.
How do you think being involved with the JC has impacted you?
Seeing everyone’s enthusiasm for my Mission Moments at every meeting was the inspiration for me to start my blog, AlzScience. I use the site to help translate scientific research on Alzheimer’s disease into language that’s accessible to the everyday reader. I used to be really focused on just conducting my research, but being involved with the JC has taught me that I’ll never be satisfied just doing research my entire life. Science communication has become a huge part of my personal identity and it’s morphed into being just as big of a passion for me as my research. Knowing that there are so many people out there who care deeply about the disease but lack the years of scientific education needed to understand research publications reveals a niche that I think scientists like myself need to fill. My career goals have changed because of the JC: while I still dream of becoming a neuroscientist, I now know I’ll also need to find room for science writing and other communication outlets in my eventual career.
Being a student, how do you think you can make the biggest impact on your community?
Students have enormous potential to shape our community. Many people just associate helping people with students planning to attend medical school. For students interested in a PhD track like myself, volunteering is not emphasized at all. However, while I don’t usually engage in what some might consider “typical” volunteering, I find ways to help the community to learn about neuroscience and brain health, topics I’m extremely passionate about. Advocating for research funding and pursuing science communication outlets with the general public are, in my opinion, fundamental aspects of being a scientist. This isn’t just true for tenured researchers—students can contribute too! If you have an area you’re knowledgeable about, find outlets like blogs or public speaking opportunities to educate the public about this topic. Use your STEM education to forge a powerful voice that can advocate for funding and legislature to move your field forward. Sometimes the overwhelming nature of academia and graduate research can make us want to just focus on the science, but we are severely limiting our potential if we spend all of our time at the lab bench. Getting out into the word and reminding the public of the important of scientific progress is just as important as our major discoveries.
We want to thank Maya for her dedication to the Junior Committee and continuing to educate our members on current Alzheimer’s research!
Kirsti Osborne, our March member spotlight, has been involved with the Junior Committee for over 2 years. She works as a Clinical Helpline Coordinator at the Alzheimer’s Association and loves doing what she can to help End Alzheimer’s Disease. See more on Kirsti below:
|Where are you from?|
|Clinical Helpline Coordinator at the Alzheimer’s Association|
|What compelled you to join the Junior Committee?|
|I played for Blondes vs Brunettes for the last several seasons and wanted to become more involved.|
|In what capacity have you served as a member of the JC?|
|Brunettes Captain for 2016 & 2017 season; BVB Marketing Committee; Blondes vs Brunettes Sponsorship Committee; Columbus Walk Mission Committee; Junior Committee Communications Committee; BVB Website Manager|
|What is your guilty pleasure (tv show, sweet treat, etc.)?|
|Doritos. Everything about Doritos. Actually any chip that ends in “tos” (I just recently discovered the spicy sweet chili Doritos and my life was changed for the better)|
|Where is the best place you have traveled & why?|
|I went on a cruise last year and traveled to Grand Turk, La Romana, Bonaire, and Aruba. They were all beautiful places and were serene in their own ways. My favorite part was gliding through the ocean with the electric scooter and being able to swim with the fish and aqua life of Grand Turk. It was a breathtaking view!|
|Which event put on by the JC has been your favorite so far?|
|I am a little biased but I have to say Blondes vs Brunettes! This is my 4th season playing and my 2nd year as captain. Being able to take part in an event that raised upwards of $44,00 dollars for the Alzheimer’s Association last year alone is a huge honor! There are so many women that have never even touched a football and are joining the field to honor their loved ones, and that is a huge inspiration. And obviously, I love football so it is a win-win situation when I get to play a sport I love and raise awareness for a great cause.|
|Tell us why ending Alzheimer’s is important to you:|
|The reason why I am fighting so hard to end Alzheimer’s is to honor all the clients and family members that I serve every day at the Alzheimer’s Association. They are the reason I am so passionate about tackling this disease. I truly enjoy connecting with each and every one of the caregivers, callers to the helpline, and of course the people with the diagnosis. They have all been dealt a hard hand to play and I know that although I don’t have a cure, I have the passion and drive to help them as much as I can and be there for them throughout the process.|
|Any last thoughts?|
|I would just like to challenge everyone who reads this to get involved in the fight to end Alzheimer’s. It could be attending an event, attending a support group or education program, or simply volunteering with the association. Alzheimer’s disease is here to stay until we do something about it!|
Planning for Blondes vs. Brunettes Columbus 2017 is well underway and the BVB Co-Chairs are kicking butt & taking names as they gear up for the Junior Committee’s signature fundraising event, which benefits that Alzheimer’s Association, Central Ohio Chapter.
The 2017 BVB Co-Chairs, Jena Callahan & Kaitlin Watterson began preparation for this event in November and have been tackling the challenges that come along with planning it left and right. They have high hopes that this season will be the best yet and look forward to getting it started with the BVB Kick-Off Party this Saturday at Classic Victory’s!
Learn more about Jena & Kaitlin in the Q&A below:
Where are you from?
|Jena: The smallest town in Ohio, Columbus Grove – don’t worry, you’ve never heard of it and that’s okay 🙂||Kaitlin: Lebanon, Ohio|
When/how did you become interested in Blondes vs. Brunettes?
|Jena: My best friend Jenny played in NYC shortly after moving there. She had such a great experience and told me she had met so many new friends that she wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to interact with. We looked it up and Columbus had a chapter! I had been wanting to add some sort of charity work into my resume, so I signed up, got involved and have never left!||Kaitlin: I originally heard about the Junior Committee at a work event about two years ago. My grandma had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and so I was immediately interested in learning more. I showed up to my first meeting in April 2015 and Blondes vs. Brunettes planning for that season was in full swing. Between my dedication to the cause and the fact that I love sports, I was in right away. I joined team Brunette on the spot and haven’t looked back since!|
|Jena, this is your third season as BVB co-chair, how would you say things have changed from your first season?||Kaitlin, this will be your first season as BVB co-chair – what are you most excited about?|
|Jena: So many things have changed from my first season. My first year playing I was team brunette captain and the three years following, I have been co-chair. Goodness, we have grown so much as an organization, so many people now know what BVB is (not everyone, still plenty of opportunity for growth!). I also believe we have spent more time incorporating the “WHY?” of us playing. We have implemented more facts, tidbits and shocking statistics about the into practices, info given to the players and social media. The last couple years we have had legit jerseys, which just make the experience and the feel of things that much more real. We have raised over $15,000 more money! We have gained about 15 players. We have become more creative with fundraisers. We used to ONLY do happy hours, last year we added in a hip-hop dance fundraiser (which was huge!) and this year we have a few new things up our sleeve. Our committee has tripled in size and we are so grateful for every single one of them, their opinions, their efforts and their dedication to BVB and the cause!||Kaitlin: I am incredibly excited for the entire season. Blondes vs. Brunettes has become near and dear to my heart and I’m so looking forward to another amazing season to kick off. This year, it will be extra special to be one of the co-chairs bringing it all to fruition. Ultimately though, I think I’m most excited for that final whistle on game day. In that moment, I know I’ll be so proud of another season accomplished, all our hard work put towards an incredible event, a new camaraderie between this year’s players and coaches and (hopefully) a new fundraising record!|
What is your favorite memory from last season?
|Jena: Favorite memory…. Gosh there are a few! I would say a few of the lifelong friendships formed and really getting to know those people. Second, I would say the fact that we KILLED our goal by $9,000. In addition to that, I killed my own personal goal of $1,500 by $900! Third would be all the long nights spent out at the farm working on BVB with Sarah Arp and a bottle of red wine. We really got to know one another, got so much done, learned so much, and really worked so well as a team!||Kaitlin: Scoring a touchdown for the Brunettes on game day is definitely up there. But I also really cherish my memories of the draft party. It was so cool to come together, not as Blondes vs. Brunettes, but as women on a mission and celebrate our season and money raised together before the ultimate showdown the next day.|
What are you most proud of in regards to BVB?
|Jena: Are you kidding me? We raised almost $45,000 last year and squashed our goal! The players, outreach and fans did that with a lot of help from the BVB leadership team! I’m also super proud of our committees. We have strong leads both last year and this year who are always willing to help in anyway. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can accomplish this year!||Kaitlin: I’m most proud of the people involved. We have a variety of individuals in many age ranges with different backgrounds. Some are new to the organization, others are veterans. Many may be part of BvB for very different reasons. But at the end of the day, we come together dedicated to raising thousands and thousands of dollars for the same cause, all with the hope that one day we can end Alzheimer’s disease. I’m so proud that we have a group of individuals willing to give of their time, money and heart to make BvB not only possible and successful, but also an incredible event to be part of.|
What are your hopes for BVB 2017?
|Jena: My hopes for 2017 is that everyone, veterans, rookies and coaches come out of the season loving BVB as much as I do. I live, eat, sleep and breath this. I want everyone to want to participate and bring their friends and share their amazing experiences. I also hope that each participant can walk away from the season with an even greater knowledge base than when they started about Alzheimer’s. My hope is that they want to learn more, they continue coming to Junior Committee events and really become passionate for the cause.||Kaitlin: My goal is for us to raise more money than last year and increase our presence and reach in Central Ohio. My hope is that after this season, even more people will know who we are and what we’re fighting for. I also want each person involved to have a great experience being part of Blondes vs. Brunettes Columbus.|
What advice would you give to a rookie joining BVB for their first season?
|Jena: Give it your all! Dive in, don’t be afraid of these girls – they are all amazing, driven, caring individuals out there for the same reason you are. Whether you’re more into it for the sport aspect, the community or the cause, someone shares your thoughts. Get to know everyone as much as possible. DO NOT segregate the opposing team – they are great too! They just have a different hair color. Come to as many practices and events as you can. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and introduce yourself. The first step in making a friend is just a smile and hello!||Kaitlin: Jump in! Join a committee, come to events, hang out with the teams after practice or training camp, suggest new fundraising ideas and so on. For me, BvB started as a really cool group to be involved in but has turned into an incredible family of friends and a fulfilling way to give back. I hope our rookies are eager to get onboard and see where this year takes them!|
Any last thoughts you want to share?
|Jena: BVB is an amazing event. So many chapters have grown exponentially across the country. We will get there, we will be BVB Dallas one year when we have 50 girls to a team and raise $500,000! Our goals are set for the future. Join BVB. Meet new friends, learn about new opportunities. Do something you’ve never done before. I don’t believe there is one person out there that would tell you “doing something you’ve never done before is a bad idea” when it comes to a charity, a cause and a passionate group of individuals.||Kaitlin: First of all, I want to thank Jena for being a wonderful fellow co-chair. I couldn’t do BvB 2017 without her. Secondly, I hope to see everyone at our kick-off on Saturday, January 21. Here’s to another amazing season!|
Millennial has become a dirty word. Millennial motions key words like entitled, inpatient, narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused, lazy. My experience with this generation since moving to Columbus, Ohio has been quite the opposite. I think much of the unsettled nature in the workplace comes from the need to have purpose. Young people want to not only make an impact, but build meaningful relationships at work and beyond.
According to the Millennial Impact Report, 84% of young professionals made a charitable donation while 73% donated their time. 67% of millennials donated up to $499 annually. These statistics are a reflection of this generations inherit desire to do good. The members of the Central Ohio Junior Committee are a beautiful representation of millennials of wanting to ‘do good.’
The month after I moved to Columbus from Denver in 2013 I looked to the Alzheimer’s Association for volunteer opportunities – perhaps to find purpose and meaning in the moments beyond 8-5, but also conceivably to build those significant relationships.
As my tenure as JC Board Chair comes to a close, I am celebrating the opportunity given to me in this city to not only make a small impact but to build authentic connections with like-minded individuals across the city. The impression the role has made on me is tremendous, and I thank each member for their time, their creative minds, their hearts and their selfless giving to end this disease.
I heard many years ago that people know who they will be by the time they’re 30 years old. As a ripe 29-year-old (ha), this has been in the back of my mind each day as I decide how to spend the most valuable thing I have – time. It’s overwhelming to see how many people in Columbus choose to spend their time selflessly; I am surrounded and motivated by these people each month in the Junior Committee. If you haven’t had the chance to join us, I strongly encourage you to insert yourself in this purpose-driven volunteer organization.
The Junior Committee makes Millennial anything but a dirty word!
About the author: Kristin Dahlquist has been a member of the Junior Committee since 2013 and served as the Board Chair from December 2014 until October 2016. She is currently in grad school and working at The Ohio State University. We are so thankful for all the work and dedication Kristin has put forth as a representative of the Junior Committee & look forward to seeing all the good she will do in the future!
As November comes to a close, we wanted to send a special thank you to the family caregivers who dedicate their time taking care of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Caregiving for a loved one can be overwhelming and drastically affect the life of a caregiver.
2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures
The Alzheimer’s Association, Central Ohio Chapter offers many support groups, programs, and other resources for caregivers & people affected by Alzheimer’s. If you need to talk to someone about the struggles you are facing or are simply looking for more information about the disease, there are resources for you.
Central Ohio Chapter 24/7 Helpline: 1-800-272-3900
Please call the helpline or go to the website if you would like more information or have any questions.
Maya Gosztyla, a member of the Junior Committee and current undergraduate student at the Ohio State University, created a blog, AlzScience, which interprets the latest Alzheimer’s research into reader friendly blog posts. Each month at our Junior Committee meeting, Maya shares this information with us during the Mission Moment.
The two topics Maya discussed in October’s Mission Moment were the link between dementia & air pollution, aluminum, & vitamin D deficiency and the possible effects of caffeine on women in regards to dementia. Please follow the links below to read the full articles.
To continue in the theme of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, one of our members, Annie Hutter, shares an incredible, honest look into the effects the disease has had on her and her family on a very personal level as well as how getting involved in the fight to end Alzheimer’s with the Junior Committee has given her a new sense of hope.
About Annie: Annie is a Senior Financial analyst for DHL Supply Chain. Her dad started showing signs of Alzheimer’s at age 55 (about 10 years ago) and was diagnosed a few years later. He still lives at home with her mom in Chagrin Fall, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland). Annie is a very active member of the Junior Committee. She traveled to Washington, DC in April for the Memory Forum to participate in the battle for increased Alzheimer’s funding and research. She is also tackling Alzheimer’s through Blondes vs. Brunettes.
I am 30 years old and live in Columbus with my husband and our cat. Life for the most part is fantastic, full of many blessings. But for the past 10 years there has been a black cloud of sorrow over me as I’ve watched my wise, productive, and full of life father be slowly stripped of himself due to Alzheimer’s disease. Watching the person you once turned to for all your advice and guidance become unable to complete a sentence or make a sandwich is a tragedy I do not wish upon anyone. The pain I feel for my parents is something that is always present. My dad’s health is declining every day, and his dependence on my mom, his caregiver, is increasing every day.
In addition to the amount of pain that comes from watching this happen to my parents, there is an extreme amount of guilt. Guilt that before we knew of my dad’s disease, I was impatient with his struggling memory and at times still am; guilt that there is nothing I can do to delay, treat, or cure his disease; guilt that my mom (who lives in Cleveland) is largely taking on my dad’s care by herself while I am in Columbus living each day with an independence she hasn’t known for the last 5 years; guilt that I’m not spending enough time with my dad while he can still communicate. The list goes on. I tried to rid myself of this guilt by making trips up to Cleveland as often as possible, but with a full time job, a house, and responsibilities in Columbus, there is never enough time.
It wasn’t until discovering the Junior Committee of the Alzheimer’s Association that I was able to curb some of this guilt through action. Upon joining the committee in the Fall of 2015, I was armed with knowledge, fundraising opportunities, friends who can relate firsthand to my experience, and advocacy opportunities. My husband and I traveled to Washington D.C. in early April to advocate for more federal funding and the support of Alzheimer’s related bills. This summer I am playing in a flag football game, “Blondes vs. Brunettes” to raise money for the association. I am also on the Gala committee for Paint the Night Purple, taking place this fall. For the first time in the past 10 years, I don’t feel helpless anymore. And I don’t feel hopeless. Even though I am not a researcher, doctor, or government official; the Junior Committee has empowered me to get involved and fight. Fight for more money, more resources, and more attention. Getting involved with the fight has opened my eyes to see how many others are fighting for the same thing. I am confident that our efforts will bring an end to this disease in my lifetime.
Is all my guilt gone? Of course it’s not; it never will be. But there is less because I am taking action rather than just watching from the sidelines. And while none of this action will directly help my dad, my hope is that it helps prevent future families from the tragedy of Alzheimer’s disease. And in all of this, I know I am honoring my dad, who lived his first 55 years of life building, fixing, helping, and creating; and who never let a day go by with an attitude of indifference.