Jun 022015
 

My name is Grace, and I am 15 years old. For nearly 10 years of my life, my mother was a caregiver for her two aging parents. My grandmother was broken physically, but my grandfather Jim slowly deteriorated due to Alzheimer’s disease, passing in February of 2014. Watching my grandfather lose his identity was one of the hardest situations my family has ever had to cope with. I live with images of how this incurable disease changed him; dealing with the grief of his passing was not easy.grace2

Ever since my grandfather’s death, I have wanted to do something to raise awareness and funds to combat Alzheimer’s. My opportunity came this year in my English class.

For my 10th grade service project, I had to choose a charity or foundation to volunteer for. Naturally I chose the Alzheimer’s Association. I raised $200 and made phone calls to people who had started their Longest Day teams to encourage them in their activities. After that, I took the next step. I set up my own team for The Longest Day, where I committed to use my passion, swimming, as a tribute to my grandfather and all people who have lost their life to Alzheimer’s. On The Longest Day, I will swim 16 miles to “Swim for Jim” as a symbolic tribute to those caregivers who work from sunrise to sunset to care for their loved ones.

People recognized my passion right away and so many were excited to donate generously to the cause. I have nearly reached the three thousand dollar-mark on my Longest Day Web page, and I can’t thank my donors enough for their tremendous support!grace3

This opportunity to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s is much more than a school project. It’s personal. It is a fight for those who have their memories and identity stolen from them. It is a call for others to support the caregivers, researchers and those who have fought this battle. It is a commitment to remember for people who no longer can. It is also a pledge to honor lost loved ones so their agonizing fight will not be in vain.

I hope you will join me on The Longest Day. I can wholeheartedly say that this experience became part of the healing process for me and my whole family. We now have a sense of closure. The donations given and awareness raised will be instrumental in decreasing the number of people who live the longest day every day. Cherish your memories – support the fight to end Alzheimer’s.grace1

About the Author: Grace Arredondo is from Charleston, South Carolina. She swims for her high school swimming team, the Shadowmoss Sharks summer league team and The City of Charleston’s Southern Marlins Racing Team. She has chosen to use her competitive swimming skills to honor her grandfather, Jim Whaley, by participating in The Longest Day. You can visit her team page here.

 

 

  17 Responses to “Swim for Jim: A Granddaughter’s Fight”

  1. You are very special.

  2. Congratulations and more teachers (I was one) should come up with awesome ideas like yours did. My daughter is in Columbia and will be the Brunette QB for the 2nd year the week before The Longest Day. We've always participated in TLD but she has put all of her effort in the BVB Game and I did too, here in Waco, TX. So glad younger people are seeing the importance and getting involved.

    YOU GO, GIRL!

  3. I am very impressed with her ability to find an inspirational and productive way to find closure when faced with the loss of a grandparent. Being near the same age (which will not disclose for safety reasons), I have gone through a similar situation. I lost my great grandma to Alzheimer's. It was odd, but as a young boy I was close to her. She quickly forgot me, however, after she was diagnosed. As you can imagine I was initially upset and confused. After seeing this my mother immediately stopped bringing me to see her. After a couple of years I started to forget her. But in that time my mother visited her all the time. She was always coming home crying and confused. This is why I hate Alzheimer's. Of course I think it is terrible to lose your identity and memory, but what is worse is the pain that this loss causes the loved ones. A favorite quote of mine goes, "Don't pity the dead, pity the living, and above all, pity those who live without love". Not only does the disease takes loved ones out of lives, but it takes their lives out of those who have died, or so it seems. This causes the most pain. With that being said, I cannot completely relate, for it is clear that her experience was much worse than mine. But I am able to appreciate what she is doing, and how she has went about it, because knowing what I know, it could NOT have been easy. Keep up the good work and make a difference. Memory and experience, besides their sentimental value, are worthless unless they create an action, and it is clear that your action is very influential. You are an inspiration.

  4. I am very impressed with her ability to find an inspirational and productive way to find closure when faced with the loss of a grandparent. Being near the same age (which will not disclose for safety reasons), I have gone through a similar situation. I lost my great grandma to Alzheimer's. It was odd, but as a young boy I was close to her. She quickly forgot me, however, after she was diagnosed. As you can imagine I was initially upset and confused. After seeing this my mother immediately stopped bringing me to see her. After a coupe of years I started to forget her. But in that time my mother visited her all the time. She was always coming home crying and confused. This is why I hate Alzheimer's. Of course I think it is terrible to lose your identity in memory, but what is worse is the pain that this loss causes the loved ones. A favorite quote of mine goes, "Don't pity the dead, pity the living, and above all, pity those who live without love". Not only does the disease takes loved ones out of lives, but it takes their lives out of those who have died, or so it seems. This causes the worst of pains.

  5. Amazing young woman!! I lost my dad a year ago to this horrible disease..

    Good luck Grace! You are doing an amazing thing

  6. Thank you for all you are doing, you are an angel! I too am a caregiver for my parents, though my father has recently passed. Both of parents have suffered from Alzheimer's, and it is the saddest thing to have to watch. You have a wonderful spirit Grace, your name says it all! Love and Light to you!

  7. You're an amazing child. May God bless you in your journey to recognize we the caretakers, and especially our loved ones afflicted by this horrible disease.

  8. Grace, what a decent and loving act! You are an inspiration to so many who work selflessly to care for Alzheimer's patients. I will contribute to your cause and think about you and so many others who work tirelessly to raise money for research and work long hours in labs trying to find a cure to stop this horrible disease.
    Oh yes, I lost my wife of 40 years to AD in 2011 after 11 years of decline. I know how you feel about losing your grandfather.

  9. Where will you be doing the swim? I wish I could swim with you…My Dad has Alzheimers and I will be spending the month of July on the lake in NH where he lives (I live in Summerville SC). Distance swimming can be a lonely thing but I admire your determination and passion. I swim across the lake in NH but it isn’t 16 miles! I have a child your age and my child’s other Grandfather already passed away from Alzheimers in Feb 2014 so this is a big issue in our family.

  10. Thank you, Grace, for your beautiful commitment to end Alzheimer's! Your maturity and intelligence will greatly facilitate your fundraising and awareness efforts – God bless you in your journey

  11. Grace – what a beautiful soul you are. Thankyou!

  12. Thank you Grace for doing this for such a great cause. I will be walking for Alzheimer's in October in Worcester, MA. I lost my mom on August 7, 2012 and I miss her so much. She suffered with this disease for many years before she could no longer stay alone. She was in a nursing facility when she passed away. I watched her slowly become a different person – not the same one who raised me and was saddened by the fact that this robs so many people of their identities, their personalities, their memories, and so much more. I'm thankful for people like you who do so much for the cause. God bless you and good luck with your swim. Your grandfather would be very proud of you. The name of our team is the "Unforgettables".

  13. Continue the fight Grace! Raising awareness and finds for the Alzhiemers association was therapeutic for me after losing my grandmother. We feel so helpless during a loved ones fight. Keep making a difference.

  14. So proud of you and all you have and will accomplish for the fight against Alzheimer's. May God bless you!

  15. THANK YOU GRACE, CARRY ON.

  16. Hi, Grace.
    My name is Terry Ward Tucker. I'm a friend of your mom's. We are all so proud of you. I have two daughters, so I know how determined strong young women can be. They are both moms now to little ones of their own, two little boys and one little girl named Lola. She is four months old. I hope Lola grows up to be like you. By the way, I served as co-writer for a new Christian movie entitled Only God Can. One of the main characters is named Grace. Her friends call her Gracie. She is the prettiest one of her group of friends, of course. I'm sure that sounds familiar to you. Hahaha. I thought you might get a kick out of knowing that your name is in a brand new movie. Love, Terry

  17. HI Grace
    I wish you all the best!
    i am Sorry about your Grand Father. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease….
    My Mom has it …and It is a painful thing to see her like this….
    I think You are doing a Wonderful thing.
    You Rock!
    Bill Curry

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