Member Spotlight | March

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?
Pickerington, Ohio
Profession/Current Position?
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!


2017 BVB Co-Chairs: Behind the Scenes Dream Team

Kait & JenaPlanning 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!

Caregiver Resources

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 – Fall 2016 Programs

Central Ohio Chapter – Programs & Services

Central Ohio Chapter – Caregiver Support Groups

Central Ohio Chapter – Care Consultation

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.

Relieving Guilt Through Action

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.

Annie Hutter (2)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.


The Man Who Wasn’t There: What Exactly is Alzheimer’s Disease?

In this post from Dogwood Forest Assisted Living Community, we explore how the deterioration of the brain through Alzheimer’s begins to affect personality and who an individual is. This is a repost from Dogwood Forest where it was originally shared by Kia Crawford on their blog in April 2016.

About Kia: Kia Crawford graduated magna cum laude from Florida A&M University with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations. She also holds a Masters of Public Administration degree. Kia began working in the senior living industry in 2006. She has worked as marketing coordinator, community relations director, and is currently the Corporate Communications Director for Trinity Lifestyles Management, an assisted living management company based out of Alpharetta, Ga.

No doubt you’ve heard of Alzheimer’s Disease. It causes memory loss and slowly destroys the brain. There have been vast leaps forward in the prevention and treatment of this disease recently as we begin to understand it more. There have also been new, fascinating  breakthroughs in understanding exactly how it really affects the brain and all aspects of the mind.

In The Man Who Wasn’t There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self, author Anil Ananthaswamy explores how different conditions, from Alzheimer’s to out-of-body experiences, affect the concept of the Self. That is, if the concept of the “Self” even exists. Through investigations of different parts of the mind and ideas like the human narrative, Ananthaswamy reveals what Alzheimer’s actually is and how it affects our minds.


Alzheimer’s disease was first classified in 1906, named after psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer, the German doctor who discovered it. He had a long-term patient named Auguste. She had severe memory loss and suffered from progressive cognitive impairment, hallucinations, delusions and other symptoms we now often associate with the disease. However, Alzheimer did not just stop his diagnoses on the surface level. He delved deep into Auguste’s mind — literally — to fully understand what was causing the disease.

Alzheimer had slivers of Auguste’s brain sent to his lab. There, he examined them, and what he found was startling. The cells of her cerebral cortex showed abnormalities not found in healthy brains. While Alzheimer did his best to describe these strange cells, we now use the terms neurofibrillary tangles and plaques of beta-amyloid protein. In other words, neurons begin to degrade, and a strange protein builds up around the area, further blocking messages between brain cells. As both these issues progress, Alzheimer’s disease takes hold.


One of the tell-tale signs of Alzheimer’s disease is memory loss. Patients tend to lose a part of their short-term and/or long-term memories. It is these moments in their life they no longer remember that form their life’s narrative. This is their story, the tale of how they became the person they are now. And, in consequence, this is what defines the Self. As some describe it, it’s like “somebody you grew up with disappears before your eyes.” And as that narrative is eroded by lost memories, it’s as if those afflicted are “drifting towards the threshold of unbeing.”

But it’s not just memory that is affected by this horrific disease. As different parts of the brain begin to deteriorate, your personality — in some ways, the center of the Self — also crumbles. One patient, a once brilliant and kind-hearted man, began suffering extreme mood swings. A small argument with his wife would send him storming from the house, slamming doors as he went. He would constantly write notes riddled with obscenities, aimed at his wife.

Perhaps the most telling change was the fear the patient presented. He read books regarding assisted suicide, and often asked his wife to make sure he never got to the point of needing adult diapers or to be in a nursing home. As his wife puts it, his brilliance was a double-edged sword. He was losing the thing he valued the most: his brain, his intelligence. In essence, Alzheimer’s was stripping him of who he was.


There are countless stories out there similar to this that reveal just how devastating it is for a person to lose what it is that makes them uniquely themselves. Many of these stories, in addition to glimpses into many different diseases and disorders, are beautifully articulated in Anil Ananthaswamy’s book. However, these stories of Alzheimer’s patients may soon be confined to medical history books, alongside the Spanish flu and smallpox. Modern medicine is on the war path toward achieving a goal once thought impossible: eliminating Alzheimer’s.

shutterstock_138838457One of the most significant recent breakthroughs involves early detection. Scientists are working toward a way to detect those protein plaque buildups very early on and, in doing so, preventing Alzheimer’s from every developing. There are many different methods being tested right now, from blood draws to brain scans. But scientists believe if they can catch these symptoms before they start affecting the brain, they can provide treatment to keep the disease at bay.

There are many different ways the plaque could be combatted. One such way is to bolster the immune system, allowing it to more efficiently fight against beta-amyloid protein from ever clumping. Another way is to prevent the plaque from affecting the brain, even if it does develop. This is done by blocking interaction with another kind of protein called Fyn. When these two proteins work together, the brain begins to deteriorate.

Scientists are also working toward preventing neurofibrillary tangles. We have learned that such tangles are caused by a “malfunction” of the Tau protein. Tau is responsible for giving neurons their shape and structure. There is an abnormal kind of Tau that, when it collapses, twists into tangles. As they do so, they slowly destroy structures within the neuron, called microtubules, and eventually destroy the cell itself. Researchers are developing drugs that attack this abnormal Tau to allow the neuron to keep its shape.

You can learn much more about all the ways researchers are working toward defeating this disease for good at theAlzheimer’s Association website. The most important thing you can do if a loved one is diagnosed is to simply support them. Make sure they know you care, and that they are not alone in this fight. Show them love, patience, and understanding. Show them that they are still connected with you, the family, and the world. Together, you may be able to preserve those special moments and the unique personality that makes them uniquely themselves.

Millennial Generation Moon Shot

As a millennial, how can you help find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease? One of our members, James Balch, challenges our generation to take action toward ending Alzheimer’s.

James Balch Profile Photo



About James: James is an active member of the Junior Committee. Professionally, he is a consultant for Pemco & Co, LLC. His aunt suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.





Before I go into depth about my call for a moon shot for Alzheimer’s disease, I think it is important to share my personal story. My aunt is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. It started with memory loss and the symptoms increased from there. The ironic part is that her husband and one of her sons are cancer surgeons where surgery or radiation can send cancer into remission, yet there is no solution for Alzheimer’s disease. Even as the disease has progressed, I continue to be impressed and touched by the courage she has in not letting the disease stop her from living. Also, I have seen her family give her love and strength as she gave to them for so many years.

As previous generations have brought awareness and billions of dollars to cancer research, we have the opportunity to make people aware of a forgotten disease that affects 5.4 million people every year. Alzheimer’s disease needs a call to action. The biggest issue that this disease brings is that there is no clear cure yet, but that does not mean we should not fight for the funding in research to accomplish that goal no matter how challenging it is. I am proud to be a millennial because when we hear it cannot be done, we activate our community to make the impossible the possible.

The pieces are there with increasing research capabilities to study the brain to further understand Alzheimer’s and alleviate its affects, but our generation needs to educate our fellow members in the community who can bring increasing awareness to take action. A movement can be born to show policy makers why Alzheimer’s research funding can be part of his or her legacy.

I am writing this blog post to call for a moon shot. Currently Alzheimer’s disease receives less than a tenth of the funding that cancer receives. I challenge our generation to bring continued awareness and give our political leaders the momentum to reach the $2 billion per year goal in Alzheimer’s research that researchers have stated is necessary to treat or prevent this deliberating disease. By activating our generation, we can crush this goal. Already Presidential Candidate Hilary Clinton has supported the $2 billion goal and several members of both parties have supported increased funding for Alzheimer’s disease.

The question becomes how this is done. Similar to politics where the strongest candidates have the best ground game, Junior Committee members supporting the Alzheimer’s Association from this generation have the greatest opportunity to educate our fellow millennials on how Alzheimer’s disease affects them and their loved ones. It can be as simple as each member speaking to five friends about the disease and challenging them to educate five other friends. Rather than just talk about the disease, you can talk about steps to keep the brain active and why brain health is just as important as physical health. Quickly this can become millions of people behind Alzheimer’s research and a political force is created. This is a simple example, but the passion of our members can truly make curing Alzheimer’s our moon shot.