Oct 272017
 

This is great what you’re doing.

My dad had Alzheimer’s. He passed just over a year ago, finally free. I miss him, but all the good memories mean he lives on.

Thank you so much for raising awareness.

***

That’s just a tiny snapshot of the tremendous reaction Teryn Schaefer received – and continues to – for wearing a simple, purple wristband.

“They all knew somebody, either directly or indirectly, who had been affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia,” Teryn says. “I don’t know how to explain the feeling of having so many people respond so genuinely. I personally don’t know many other people who’ve been affected the way I’ve been, so it was almost alarming to see how big the community of those touched by Alzheimer’s and dementia really is.”

As an on-camera host for the PGA TOUR, along with her regular presence on the grounds of TOUR events, Teryn is using her platform to create awareness and do her part to assist in the pursuit to end Alzheimer’s. On her Twitter and Instagram channels – with more than 10,000 followers – Teryn on September 18 posted:

Today I’m wearing the @alzassociation purple band in honor of my grandfather on my show #TrendingOnTOURPlease join us in helping us bring awareness and defeat this disease, together we can find a cure.

She’s kept that purple band on ever since, including during the week-long, season-ending TOUR Championship in Atlanta this September.

“People are cured of cancer every day because of the awareness that’s been in place for quite some time, and it’s awesome,” Teryn says. “I’ll do anything I can to help bring Alzheimer’s into that light. A diagnosis of any disease is devastating, but I don’t think people ultimately realize how difficult it is to deal with Alzheimer’s and how hard it is on the families.”

Teryn lost her beloved maternal grandfather – Frank Miller – to Alzheimer’s in 2016 at the age of 81, some 10 years after his diagnosis. She cherishes special memories sprinkled throughout her childhood, so much of it spent with her grandpa. A retired special education and elementary school teacher, Frank and his granddaughter were nearly inseparable during Teryn’s youth.

“He was a huge part of my life,” Teryn says. “We would go to the zoo and the art museum, and he always had projects to do with me around the house – any number of outdoor activities from gardening to helping him mow the grass. He thought it was good for us kids to get in some hard work. We were very close.”

In the early 2000s, Teryn’s grandmother began to notice symptoms of forgetfulness in her husband Frank. An avid reader and learner, Frank found himself having to re-read paragraphs from the page of a book he’d just read, and the word and number puzzles he’d once been a whiz at became more and more challenging to conquer.

Frank’s mother died from complications of Alzheimer’s, “so he knew all too well the symptoms of dementia,” Teryn says. “He knew before his diagnosis, he understood.”

Teryn – who grew up in the small town of Waterloo – says her hometown’s proximity to St. Louis was fortuitous, for shortly after her grandfather’s diagnosis, doctors at St. Louis University conducted a research study with people living with dementia – and Frank was a willing participant.

“He said from the start,” Teryn recalls, “’Whatever we can do to help with the research and in some way make a difference with this disease, we’ll do.’”

When Teryn graduated from the University of Missouri – one of the country’s most prestigious journalism and broadcast media schools – Frank was able to attend and see Teryn receive her diploma, though he’d long since been able to recognize her by name.

“My grandfather was basically not himself for the last 10 years of his life, and that’s a really long time for someone to not even know who they are,” Teryn says.

Unable to “process my grandfather’s death and figure out a way I can honor him,” Terynand the Alzheimer’s Association recently connected. Suddenly, the blurry picture of how she planned to support the fight to end Alzheimer’s came into greater focus.

“It was something I needed,” she says. “I needed someone to help me get a jumpstart into figuring out how I can make a difference.”

Teryn plans to participate in Walk to End Alzheimer’s in November in her adopted hometown of Jacksonville, Florida – and, of course, continue to showcase the purple band on her left wrist.

“For all those who fight Alzheimer’s and dementia – and for those who have been affected by it – I raise awareness. I want all of us to remember our loved ones as the people they were for the majority of their lives, and to preserve those memories as best we can.”

About Teryn: A rising star on the sports-media scene, Teryn Schaefer hosts several shows for the PGA TOUR, including The Takeaway and Trending on TOUR, and is a contributor and host on PGA TOUR LIVE.

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