In 2019, Andy O was asked to be the "Official Spokesman" for the Alzheimer's Association's Annual Walk in Muskegon. It was a bit of an overwhelming task to be honest. Emcee from a stage and ad lib. Piece of cake. But to be considered an "Official Spokesman" seemed to elevate things significantly and might lead to situations that were rather uncomfortable due to the limited amount of personal exposure to the horrible disease. What if people had questions that couldn't be answered? What if ya had to go speak to a group of "VIP's" who'd look at you thinking "Why'd they pick you?" All kinds of reasons float through the head. In the end though, it's about lending a hand, and getting out of your comfort zone a little, right? So whaddya do? Find someone who really knows what they are talking about and let them have the spotlight.
That's just what happened, and it didn't take much looking. Kelly DeVos was one of the people in the Alzheimer's Association group of volunteers who was asking Andy to take the role. She didn't see it coming for a second when Andy flipped the tables on her and knew that she was the real spokesman, but how to get it out of her? Kelly's dad lives with Alzheimer's Disease, and that means everyone in Kelly's family does too. The plan began. It was time for Kelly to tell her story.
Took a little time "getting to know" each other, after all, a story like this can't just be told to a stranger. It also took a great deal of trust and compassion on both parts to share details about life at all stages of living with Alzheimer's Disease, from early signs to diagnosis to finally needing permanent residential care as the disease progressed. The true spokesman spoke openly, honestly and from the heart in all 4 segments and the world of Alzheimer's Disease was opened up to thousands and thousands of Muskegon Channel viewers.
At the end of the year, with the event completed, the Muskegon Channel won an award for the Media Partner of the Year for the Alzheimer's Association, but the true champion was Kelly. She broke out and became a true leader and found that through her strength and willingness to share her experiences, others found out they were not alone and that Alzheimer's doesn't discriminate.
We thought we'd bring back Kelly's story so you could hear it again, or for the first time. You're seeing a true champion being born here, and one who's love for her dad got her past the camera shyness and out front to tell her story. It's a pretty amazing thing to see.
We checked with Kelly of course to make sure an encore showing was ok by her, and yes, it was. The hope remains as it did last year that if you are living with someone who's life is being slowly taken away by Alzheimer's Disease, that one day there's a cure. In the mean time, the help is there and the work of the Alzheimer's Association continues. You can visit their website below to learn more about what they do and why. Our most sincere thanks once again to Kelly DeVos for her bravery and leadership in talking about such a personal struggle.