On the emotional toll:
"You can never prepare a person or a family member for the effects that Alzheimer's will have on not only the individual, but family members and the community involved as well."
Gerald E. Olson, 18
Spring Creek, NV
"It’s like that lightning bug I chased after, illuminating one warm summer night, but the light never lasted forever. Despite watching the last flicker, I always held on to that lightning bug until it faded completely, leaving me to make that tough decision and let it go. My mother's memory became that light, diminishing a little more each day, until finally it faded away completely and her own daughter became a stranger."
Susan K. Youngsteadt, 18
Kill Devil Hills, NC
“After a long time of sowing seeds passes, Alzheimer’s tramples the crop, leaving only traces in the soil lying alongside the occasional battered, beautiful flower, gleaming in the mud, untainted. Wherever its sufferers felt passion, pride, or affection, Alzheimer’s attacks and seeks to destroy, ripping families apart and bringing pain to everyone it touches.”
Elizabeth R. Lampp, 18
"It's said that Alzheimer's claims at least two victims --- the person who has Alzheimer's disease and the person who cares for the patient. I would have to agree. I never thought that Alzheimer's would ever affect me personally in some way, but then again I don't think that anyone does.”
Rakelle L. Noble, 18
“It’s been a journey of love and patience, loss and laughter. I miss my grandma—good and bad. I hope she’s happy in whatever world she is in. I hope she knows how much we all love her.”
Lauren E. Lucke, 18
“Your cherished cameras have passed to me. So has your passion for taking pictures. I have been accepted at two universities with visual arts majors, and I plan to major in photography. Your journey ended just as mine began. Thank you, Grandpop, for everything."
Jasmine L. Thompson, 17
"For she reminds us quite often, ‘I may forget your birthday, I may forget my shoes, and I probably will definitely forget my purse, but I will never forget to love my family.’”
Claire R. Saunders, 19
Monroe City, MO
“Besides in the springtime, I could bring seeds or bulbs with me to plant around his grave, maybe tulips or daffodils, or maybe petunias, his favorite flower. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, ‘Earth laughs in flowers.’ My Dad would too.”
Maryam I. Kanna, 18
On the financial toll:
“My mother had to take a second job to help pay for the expenses that increased drastically with grandma’s illness. Social work in Panama is handled by the government and the waiting list will be outlived by most of those seeking it, and there are not enough senior facilities we could afford. Therefore, we try to manage the best we can.”
Stephanie N. Contreras, 18
On finding a cure:
"I read about the enormous efforts being put forth by some of the world's most brilliant scientists and doctors to find a cure. This gives me hope that soon people will be able to live through Alzheimer's. That they will be able to say, ‘I have survived cancer. I have survived Alzheimer's.’”
Briana C. Daniels, 18
"My dream is that when the next 14-year-old child googles the ‘hard to spell’ disease, they will read, in dark bold letters, ‘Has a current and effective cure.’ "
Maritza G., 18