Just imagine you have just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a debilitating disease with no cure in sight. As a crescendo of emotions, such as fear and depression, run through you like a race-car flying at 200 MPH, you begin to worry about the future, as you know you will lose more than just your memories. Your behavior will change; you may act in ways you never dreamed of doing. You may become paranoid of people around you, strangers, caretakers, and even the ones you love. Eventually it will become very difficult to walk, eat, and speak. You will worry not only for yourself, but for your loved ones as you know they will watch your quality of life decline, though you will eventually be unaware of it. It is emotionally tough to watch someone you love deteriorate in such a manner.
My name is Kendra Blankenship and I lost my paternal grandmother after a long battle to Alzheimer’s Disease on June 3, 2015. I remember one of the last conversations I had with her after her diagnosis. She had asked me a question about school, which I answered. Literally one minute later, she asked me the same question, paused, and laughed. She then asked, “I probably already asked you that didn’t I?” “No, grandma,” I lied, “You didn’t.” I was fortunate to have a wonderful grandmother in my life. I remember going to her house in Missouri, watching As the World Turns with her and grandpa, learning to crochet, taking walks around the mall, smelling her Cowboy Coffeecake. She had an incredible, beautiful soul. I miss her very much. Even writing this right now brings tears to my eyes.
In honor of my grandmother and everyone else inflicted by Alzheimer’s Disease, I ran my first 50 miler race in Ottawa, Kansas on April 2, 2016: Prairie Spirit Trail 50 Miles. As many of you know, I am an avid runner, but I have never ran a 50 miler. Training was a tough but beautiful challenge. As my grandmother passed away on National Running Day, I find it fitting that I run in her honor. Not only has this disease hit me on a personal level, but also as a nurse, I see its effect on many of my patients and their family. I really hope you consider donating to this worthy cause. Every dollar helps in this movement towards research for more advanced treatment and, one day, a cure.