Jun 202012

Today, I’m joining the fight against Alzheimer’s by running around a high school track with my best friend. I’ll run for an hour, she’ll run for an hour. And we’ll continue like that all day long. We’re doing it because we want to raise awareness, money, and hope that one day we’ll live in a world without Alzheimer’s.

I’m also doing it to honor my grandmother.

My grandma, who we all called Bami, was a high school English teacher and librarian with two masters’ degrees. She was a crossword puzzle whiz and literary enthusiast. Her passion for words and her love of language is something that lived on through my dad, and now through me.

I was in middle school when she got Alzheimer’s. I can remember watching her sort silverware in our kitchen after a family dinner. She would take a utensil out of the dishwasher basket, and sort of furrow her brow before putting it in the drawer. I remember her looking around hesitantly before closing the drawer. Puzzled, I opened the drawer and saw all of the knives, forks, and spoons mixed together. She had lost the ability to sort silverware.

She tried to hide the loss of her every day skills: She still wore a watch, and when asked for the time, she’d say she didn’t have her glasses to read it. In reality, she didn’t know what the numbers on the watch face meant. She couldn’t use cash; she’d ask store clerks to take the right amount from her wallet.

What stands out to me as the true horror of this disease is that she knew what was happening to her. She knew she was losing her mind, and she was terrified.

We chose to run an ultra-marathon relay on this day because we couldn’t think of anything we could do that was harder physically that would honor those suffering with Alzheimer’s. I estimate that I will run more than 15 miles farther than I’ve ever run before, and I’m scared.

But we have a secret weapon:

We asked all of our donors to tell us if they’d lost or were losing a loved one from Alzheimer’s, and we’re carrying those names around with us on the track, one at a time. When it gets painful and we just want to stop running, we’ll be able to look at those names and know that our Longest Day just doesn’t come close to the anguish those victims and their families had to deal with every day.

Kim Maas is participating in Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day™, a sunrise-to-sunset relay to raise awareness and funds for the fight against Alzheimer’s. Click here to follow Kim and her team, “Team Running to Remember,” during this 16-hour event.

  6 Responses to “Running an Ultra-Marathon Relay for My Bami”

  1. Hi Kim,
    Best to you in your fight against this awful disease. I just lost my wonderful Dad to complications from Alzheimers this April 27th. Like your Bami, he was so smart and had a quick mind. And besides that, he was such a sweet and kind man. Thankfully, he never lost that, at least with me. I miss him terribly. Thank you for participating in the ultra-marathon relay. Chris J.

  2. Thank you Kim, for also honoring my mother-in-law, Eva Porters, who passed away April 4, 2012, after a long battle with Alzheimers. Earl & I, along with our family and his sisters and brothers, appreciate your efforts in raising awareness and helping to raise funds for Alzheimers and are so proud of you & your teammate, Rachel for your participation in this event.

  3. Dear Kim,

    The story of your Bami is one of heartbreak. You are right. The true horror is that she knew it was happening to her. At least she had family who loved her and cared for her. I feel that I am losing my 84 year old mother to this disease, but I don't even know for sure, as I can't get her to go to the doctor's office to be checked out. I think she fears the diagnosis. So do I. All I can do is be as kind and as helpful as I can be. My fear is that one day it will happen to me…and I have no family to watch over me. I would be very much alone. Your dedication to the efforts of The Longest Day is very much appreciated by me and, I am sure, by millions of others. Thank you for being there.


  4. Hi Kim,
    Thank you for honoring your Bami. Your story sounds all too familiar to me. I'm loosing my Mom to this horrible disease now. She raised 7 kids, was the organist at church for 43 years, a substitue teacher in French, a piano teacher, caregiver for my Dad when he had the disease and many various other activities.
    I have 5 wonderful brothers who all love Mom very much & we are blessed to have her within an hour of each of us. She is visited often, but doesn't always know us. She has wonderful caregivers. Thankfully like Chris' Dad, Mom is still sweet and kind. I hope other young people continue to recognize that we need to learn how to beat this awful disease.

  5. Hello Kim,
    I just wanted to say I know what it is like to loose someone you love to this horrible disease. My mother died Feburay 13 of this year. She was not a school scholar, but she was smart, & one of the kindest people you would want to meet. We to watched her try to put dishes away, & could not remember where they went. Would also find a cup of coffee in the cabnet, where she probally thougt is was a sink, or maybe to her it was being put in the microwave. My mother was my best friend. We did all sort of things together. I still have a hard time, thinking how she just passed away in front of our eyes. I am with you every lap you make, so please think of my mother Betty Roberts. Thank you so much Kim. My prayers are with you sweetheart…

  6. You are awesome Kim!

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