A Call to Action: Grow the 'AFA Quilt to Remember'
Death may not be a good thing to keep harping on, but I feel the need to return to the subject of my last column, in which I highlighted the fact that Alzheimer's disease has moved up to the 6th leading cause of death in the nation.
I, we, need to make a big deal out of it because it is too frightening a statistic to ignore. It requires action-action to show the nation that Alzheimer's disease is not just a statistic. It is a disease that affects real people.
One way that the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) is relaying this message is through our AFA Quilt to Remember, the nation's first, grand-scale quilt that memorializes and honors those affected by Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. But, now, in light of the mounting death rate and the escalating incidence of Alzheimer's disease, we hope to declare this message even louder and stronger.
We are challenging Americans to increase the size of the AFA Quilt to Remember six-fold, expanding it from the current 100 panels in the collection to 600 quilt blocks by November 2009-National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month.
Just imagine what force this will wield as the quilt travels across America year after year. With each new panel, with 500 new panels, it grows as a powerful symbol of loss and sorrow, as well as a banner of strength and unity.
There's more than the big picture to think about here. While I encourage you to create a panel for the nation, I also encourage you to do it for yourself.
What we hear over and over again from panel makers is that designing a quilt panel for the AFA Quilt to Remember helps them deal with loss as a result of a loved one living with Alzheimer's disease and/or dying from it. It is an opportunity to recall past memories, to express a wide range of emotions and to celebrate someone's life.
As Kathy Siggins said, in submitting her panel in memory of her husband, Gene, "This would be a great tribute to him and a healing process for us, his family. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this special tribute honoring those we have lost and those who continue to live with this tragic and heartbreaking disease."