Amazing how a simple three-letter word provides an instant impact to Charlotte Jackson’s quest to help end Alzheimer’s.
“The worst they can say is no,” Charlotte says of her simple strategy to build a bigger support group. “I learned how to ask at the very beginning, and so many people have come through for me.”
Charlotte’s husband Bill – today “a young 70,” Charlotte says – was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2008. In 2012, once Charlotte retired from her retail management position and was able to devote much more time to raising both funds and awareness for Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Team Bill was formed.
“It’s been a really incredible journey, as well as a not-so-great journey because of what I’m going through with Bill. But it certainly makes it a lot easier when you have people who support everything you are doing – not only financially, but also emotionally.”
Charlotte’s pursuit began simply enough – a post on Facebook, asking friends for modest donations. Charlotte tracks much of her family’s journey – and Bill’s health updates – on Facebook. At first, she received comments like: “I never thought Alzheimer’s was like that. I thought it was just a memory disease.” Thanks to the power of social media, people were learning the truths of the disease, and nearly $6,600 in donations later, Charlotte was hooked – and floored.
“We thought, ‘Oh, my gosh – that’s so much money!’” Charlotte says. “We were so excited, so thrilled over it. I didn’t realize it was going to get bigger and bigger; I was blown away by $6,600! Since then, it’s truly progressed.”
Progressed, indeed. In 2015, Team Bill pulled in $13,000 in donations and in 2016 netted $16,000. This year, Charlotte set the bar high, aiming for a team record of $20,000.
“I thought I was being a little aggressive,” Charlotte says, “but I want to see what it feels like to reach it.”
In her third full year of fundraising, Charlotte introduced an ice cream social – “Freeze out Alzheimer’s” – for which she secures an ice cream donor and signs up local businesses as sponsors: Triple Scoop Sponsor ($750), Double Scoop Sponsor ($500) and Single Scoop Sponsor ($250). She typically holds this event in June, just before vacation season is in full-swing.
The $5-per-ticket event gets a bit bigger every year and Charlotte adds different amenities, like a balloon artist who makes animals for the kids, and a fun photo booth for families to enjoy. The 2017 edition of “Freeze Out Alzheimer’s” raised $5,000 “and there’s still money coming in.”
Team Bill’s sixth Walk to End Alzheimer’s is set for September 17 in the North Andover, MA area. Through July, Team Bill has raised nearly $14,000, amassing about 70% of its ultimate goal.
“The first year, I did most of the planning and work myself,” Charlotte says of the ice cream social and Team Bill’s participation in Walk to End Alzheimer’s. “Then I got smart. The last two years I’ve had a committee and we work together to make the events a success.”
Charlotte often invites a member of the Alzheimer’s Association to speak at her fundraising events, along with setting up a table with information packets to create awareness and education; she and her two sons speak to all the people who come out to support the cause.
“These are very incredible, emotional days,” Charlotte says. “When I look out and see all these people who have helped me in so many ways, I realize that they’re always there for me. I can pick up the phone and say, ‘I’m lonely today,’ and they’ll tell me to come on over.”
After all, it never hurts to ask.
Just ask Charlotte Jackson.