Personality: Jessica N. Thomas
Spotlight on chair of Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Walk to End Alzheimers
10/25/2018, 6 a.m.
“Our researchers and doctors truly believe that we are right on the cusp of doing that, but they have to have the funding to do so.”
The annual 3-mile Walk to End Alzheimer’s helps boost those funding efforts, but it is a large undertaking. With that, Ms. Thomas says, “There is a need for a very large group of volunteers to come out to support the event.” The volunteers behind the scenes make sure the day runs seamlessly.
“There is walking route entertainment, which includes a lot of different entertainment groups – bands, musicians, cheerleading and step squads,” the event chairs says. “We need those people to encourage the runners and walkers and uplift the day.
“Most importantly, there is an advocacy aspect to the walk. It is really important walkers understand what we are advocating to the government and what type of research, funding and support we need for Alzheimer’s.
“The emotional effects of seeing a loved one going through the progressive stages of Alzheimer’s is a huge drain on family caregivers.
“The biggest thing we, at the Alzheimer’s Association, have to do is continuously educate our caregivers and let them know they are not alone.”
Meet this week’s Personality and a strong advocate for Alzheimer’s disease awareness and research, Jessica Thomas:
No. 1 volunteer position: Chair, Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
Occupation: Director of operations, Always Best Care Senior Services.
Date and place of birth: Dec. 28, 1985, in Richmond.
Current residence: Winterpock area of Chesterfield County.
Education: Bachelor’s of science in therapeutic recreation from Longwood University.
Family: My husband, Daniel, the best dog ever, Molly, and five amazing nieces.
Walk to End Alzheimer’s goal: Our goal is to end Alzheimer’s and to see our first survivor.
Financial goal: $600,000.
What it’ll take to pull it off: We need the community’s continued support in doing so. We have a committee of 40+ volunteers that have been diligently working to plan for this event, spread the word and raise funds. We need to continue to tell people about the Walk, continue to fundraise and continue meeting with company leaders. I’ve learned that we just have to tell people what we are doing, and ask them to support us.
How I’ll feel when it’s over: Energized! Energized to keep fighting for those that can’t fight. Energized to share the support that was displayed to all of my employees and family caregivers fighting this fight. This event always re-energizes me. It’s the reason I fight all year long. The community comes together in such a beautiful way.
Expected number of walkers: 3,000.
Mission of Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Richmond: Eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.
Services association provides: Care consultation to help with care planning and coping; community education and caregiver training; support groups; safety programs and trial match to identify clinical studies.
Importance of family support: Family support is essential as often the family is the first to identify the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and family members become caregivers to those diagnoses.