Jun 202012

I am participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day™ in honor of my Grandpa Darrah, who died with Alzheimer’s disease. In the summer of 2010, I participated in the Alzheimer’s Association Breakthrough Ride™, where more than 55 researchers cycled relay-style across the country to collect petition signatures asking Congress to make Alzheimer’s disease a national priority. Now I ride again, in support of funding and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

My experience as a Breakthrough Rider was one of the most memorable of my life. I rank it just under my marriage and the birth of my children! I rode, not as a researcher, but as someone whose life has been affected by Alzheimer’s disease. It was so special to share and discuss experiences with so many people who also were affected by Alzheimer’s. I also found that training for the 2010 ride and the ride itself offered a unique time to reflect on my own experiences with my grandpa while he was struggling
with Alzheimer’s.

Since the ride, I have become more involved with the Alzheimer’s Association by becoming a member of their speaker’s bureau. This has also been a unique and often touching experience. I have enjoyed sharing stories, memories and support systems with others affected by Alzheimer’s disease. It feels odd to say “enjoyed” but sharing stories also allows me to reflect on the good memories of my grandpa as well. I look forward to continued experiences as a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association.

I am also excited to about today because I am just glad I can ride my bike. In the summer of 2011, I was experiencing dramatic balance issues, increasing numbness on my right side and a variety of other symptoms. A MRI showed congenital cervical stenosis. Everyone was a little surprised since I was only 35 at the time. We scheduled surgery for less than two weeks from the diagnosis. Everything went great, both surgery and physical therapy. A week before the surgery I fell in my own back yard while cutting the grass. Now, after the surgery, I am excited to say I can (and according to my doctor am allowed) to ride my bike with the Breakthrough Riders to raise awareness and funding for the Alzheimer’s Association on the longest day of the year.

I am in it until Alzheimer’s is finished.

Mike Darrah participated in the Alzheimer’s Association Breakthrough Ride™ in 2010. Today, he is riding as a Breakthrough Rider again as a participant in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day™, a sunrise-to-sunset relay to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

  One Response to “Riding to Remember My Grandpa Darrah”

  1. A wonderful post! Many poplee I know have parents who have Alzheimer’s and they visit them often, even though the parent is not aware of it. I visit my mom 3 times a week…no, her memory is good, but there are others there who are not as fortunate. Every time I go, they ask me my name and who I am..and each time (hundreds) I tell them…and take the time to talk to them. Some of them never get visit….children are working..or dead or too busy, etc…if they only knew that loneliness can be worse than cancer.Volunteering even 3 hours a month would make a world of difference to these seniors and make you richer by far.

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