The time is now….

Tomorrow I leave for the beginning of the Temple Project hike.  I have trained as hard and as well as I could….I have packed and repacked…and now it’s time for my feet to hit the road and to try to do my part to make a difference.  First, I have to thank my beautiful family for supporting me – Matt, Taylor and Matthew, I could not have done this project without your support so thank you and I love you.  bag

Next, a HUGE thank you to all the generous donors….together we have raised over $10,000 to help support the Alzheimer’s Association and all that they do for families struggling.  And, the donations are still coming in – from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you. (http://bit.ly/karenshike)

Finally, my list of names to honor/remember continues to grow – and THIS is why I am doing this hike – to raise my voice to be sure that we are heard – that our loved ones are acknowledged and that by making them known, to raise awareness for just how many people are affected, and just how devastating Alzheimer’s is to patients and families.

Follow my blog for the next two weeks as I journal the hike – our ups, and our downs, and when we reach Agrigento, to follow me reading all the names.  I am humbled and grateful for all of the support, and I know that this effort, and these funds, will help us find the first survivor.  With much love and gratitude – Karen

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within in us.” As I make my final preparations for my Temple Project hike, this famous quote, kept popping to mind.

What lies behind me is all the sadness and frustration of Alzheimer’s ‘winning’ again and again….what lies before me is the uncertainty of the future and what mine might look like without a cure…but what lies within me is a burning desire to make a difference- no matter how small, in this battle against Alzheimer’s….heartfelt thanks to all who have supported this effort…I am humbled by the friendship and support…

I am still assembling my list of names to read in honor/memory so please send to me if you would like your loved one acknowledged- http://bit.ly/karenshike

Trial Run

I am testing out blogging from my phone since that is what I will be doing once on the Magna via Francigena trail – two more weeks to train- will I be ready? Will I have reached my fundraising goal? While I don’t yet know the answers to these questions, I do know that I am going to give it my all- I am hiking for all of us – to honor, to remember, to support everyone affected by Alzheimer’s-

Happy Birthday Daddy

Today would have been my dad’s 100th birthday – instead of celebrating a huge milestone, I am sitting here pondering all of the wonderful milestones that he has missed in my life …. the birth of my children, the celebrations of their communions, sweet sixteeIMG_1251 2ns, high school graduations, awards etc.  And, I have missed 20 years of his guidance – he was not only my father, but my mentor and friend.  When I needed advice on finances, insurance, big life decisions, or even gardening, he was there to offer support.

I also sit here frustrated; frustrated that 20 years have passed and we still do not have the answers for treatments or a cure for Alzheimer’s.  How can that be? How can TWENTY years have passed, and we are no closer to a cure?

This hike that I am doing, is more than just a fundraiser or an awareness builder.  It is a gesture of love for my dad and for all those suffering…it is pushing my own limits physically and encouraging those that can, to push their limits as well – pushing to continue research….pushing to fund scientists….pushing to never give up….the answer is out there and if we all push our limits, even just a little bit, we can find the answers that we seek….

If you would like to learn more about the hike, or to have your loved one honored/remembered, please visit my site at http://bit.ly/karenshike – Happy 100th Birthday in Heaven Daddy – I hope that you and Mommy are enjoying a lobster, a martini and a beautiful slow dance.

The Growing List

In fifty six days I will be in Palermo, beginning my 115 miles hike across Sicily with my Temple Project teammates. We are all training…..working out, hiking, running, going to the gym, eating healthy and mentally preparing.  We are buying new gear – hiking shoes, poles, lightweight clothes, hats….we are slowly checking off the items on our ‘lists’ of what to buy and how to best be prepared.

There is one list, however, that is growing larger by the day, and it is THIS list that is the very reason for my participation in the Temple Project and the Pilgrimage to Enlightenment Documentary…and that is the list of names that I will be reading when we reach our final destination  in Agrigento.

Each day, I am contacted by many asking me to add the name of a loved one who has died from Alzheimer’s….or to add the name of a someone who is living with Alzheimer’s…or to add the name of a caregiver of someone with Alzheimer’s…or to add the name of someone struggling with Parkinson’s.  The list is growing……and for all of us on this journey, it is our hope that someday, there are no more lists of names of those lost to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

But, today, the list is long, and today, I will honor and remember each and every person whose name was given to me to recognize in Agrigento.  If you would like to have your loved one be a part of our journey, and to have their name recognized, please visit http://bit.ly/karenshike and tell me who you would like remembered….we can, and we will, find cures – and in the meantime, we will continue to raise our voices…so that someday, we will outshine the darkness of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The Gift of Goodbye

Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of my mom’s passing. Lung cancer. Horrible and heartbreaking and I miss her every single day.   We were so much alike  – stubborn, loyal to our family, and we bickered a lot – ok, we bickered almost every day! But, we never went to bed without an apology and an ‘I love you’.   Over the years, I have lost many relatives, and every death, no matter how old someone is in years, is tragic and sad, and hard. So why then, am I writing about my mom on a blog that is about Alzheimer’s?

Because, no matter how hard her death was, when I reflect back on her last few months, I realize what a beautiful gift we both were given – the gift of ‘Goodbye’….my mom and I spent time talking about her wishes for her care, both what she did, and didn’t want as far as her health care; we spent time talking about her hopes and wishes for her grandchildren; we spent time crying, and laughing and being angry that she wouldn’t see her grandchildren grow; we even talked about her wishes for her funeral.

And, when the time came, my mom gave me a beautiful gift – she told me she loved me, IMG_9723and she told me she’d miss me, and she gave me the gift of goodbye.  Now, go back in time 5 years, when my dad was dying.  There was no laughter…no discussion about his wishes for his care….no talking about his hopes and dreams….and most importantly, no ability to say I love you, or Goodbye.  My dad, who was my mentor, my friend, and who I respected more than I can explain, died without knowing his family was with him, or that we loved him, or without that beautiful Goodbye.

That is why, for the past 20 years, I have been an avid advocate for research, for funding, for support, and for a cure for Alzheimer’s.  Alzheimer’s is an evil, wicked thief, that steals the most precious memories, treasured thoughts, and loving wishes – at the end of the day, when we take our last breath, all the wealth and ‘things’ are meaningless…the only real measure of person, is who they are, and the memories they made….and this monster called Alzheimer’s rips that all away.  I will NOT stop speaking out until we have made some progress – something to help….I won’t even be so selfish as to ask for a cure – how about a treatment, or something to really slow the progression, just SOMETHING to give hope and help to those affected.

I miss my mom every single day, but I rest easy knowing that she lived her life on her terms, and most importantly, she knew how very much she was loved, and she told her family how very much she loved us….Whether you are living with Alzheimer’s, caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, or have lost someone to Alzheimer’s, know that there are regular people like me out there, fighting for us all – fighting to find funding so that we can end this disease, fighting for all the memories, and fighting for all of us to have the Gift of Goodbye.

Please consider a donation, no matter how small, to help scientists, researches, care teams, find that cure….every penny matters….thank you so much for your consideration –  .Funding for the Gift of Goodbye