Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Capitol Punishment (the hill) to Crush Alzheimer's

Dear Friends, 
I'm sorry. I'm late.

But, I have found this week to be particularly difficult to write - which inevitably leads to procrastination. More like displacement. In my normal writing time I had a wicked ear ache, that led to a swimmy brain - ultimately a little undisturbed couch time. But, again just procrastination. 

The real root of the problem lies in my waffling on issuing a public personal challenge, really putting myself out there. So it is now Tuesday. Time to face it down. Here it goes. 

Throughout the past few months I have been SO inspired by our Walk teams and their great efforts to rally their teams and raise funds. From motorcycle rides to bake sales to a steak fry, teams are pairing activities they love with their passion for the cause of Alzheimer's. Leaving me to ponder, what can I do as my first fundraiser for the year to rally my team, raise funds and build momentum. I have really been racking my brain. 

And then it dawned on me. I am taking on Capitol Punishment, the hill that is. 

This is my favorite slide from an advocacy presentation developed by our great policy staff member Matthew Baumgart. It clearly depicts a steep hill, made up of all of the challenges that we face with Alzheimer's disease, and a person pushing the giant heavy rock that is Alzheimer's up that hill. The point of the slide, is that through advocacy work we can conquer each of the pieces of the mountain, until one day it doesn't exist. 

But, Walk to End Alzheimer's is just as much a part of conquering these uphill challenges as our policy efforts. Walk and Policy are tied together. Walk to End Alzheimer's fuels our advocacy efforts and awareness efforts. 

Hmmm, big hill, that people can relate to, that can be conquered...

The famous 15 mile Charleston Distance Run has an equally famous hill, aptly titled Capitol Punishment. It is a little bit more than a mile straight up 119 from MacCorkle Ave. to Oakwood Road. Rookie distance runners are fooled into thinking that once you round the bend at Oakwood Rd. it is the end of the pain of Capitol Punishment. But, in reality Capitol Punishment actually ends at Elizabeth Memorial Church, a little less than a mile on up the hill. I think they don't tell you because if you knew you had to run that far straight uphill, everyone would run away screaming! (Sorry race organizers, I had to spill the beans).

I am going to take on the Charleston Distance Race to raise funds for my team. My goal is to raise $20/mile for a total of $300 - a little less than half my personal fundraising goal. 

This idea came to me as I was pounding out my training miles and going through my policy presentation in advance of our Caregiver University. My mind kept coming back to my visual aid, the lessons I have learned from my work at the Alzheimer's Association and taking on the Distance Race. As the miles passed under my feet,the comparisons kept growing. Just like taking on Capitol Punishment: 
  • Conquering Alzheimer's takes discipline and practice. We learn and practice the facts about Alzheimer's, the 10 Signs, practice our communication techniques to help our loved ones, practice our safety plan, and practice our fundraising pitch. We know the tough climbs are coming, but we will be prepared. 
  • It is o.k. to get tired and slow down - even walk, but we can't stop or turn back. We've come to far, we have to keep going. For our Ws, for our mother's and father's our mammaws and pappaws, for our children and grandchildren - we have to keep fighting up that hill. 
  • Self-doubt will try to sneak in, but we know it is false and ultimately we will prevail. 
  • We can't do it alone. The others around us who are climbing this same hill are our support system, they help us keep our pace and build our momentum. We need our support group! 
  • Cheerleaders are just as important! Their positive energy and friendly faces to keep our spirits high. 
  • There will be moments where we think we reached the summit, only to round the corner and face even greater challenges. 
  • The end of Alzheimer's starts and ends with one foot in front of the other.  
While the end of Alzheimer's, or even some of the pieces of the mountain won't disappear when I reach the finish line, our combine efforts are making significant strides to change the future. And that is enough for me to say, bring it on! 

So, over the next few weeks I am going to be challenging my friends and family to support my efforts. Through email, facebook, and maybe even a rallying video I will work to meet my $20/mile goal. Then, bright and early on August 31 I will strap on my running shoes and climb that mountain, not just for me, but for my family, for my friends, for all of you. For the END of Alzheimer's. 

I want to hear from you! Are you doing something you love to rally your Walk team? Are you taking on a challenge? Your stories inspire so many others! Send me your story and favorite recipe to be featured here on the Dish! Send me an email at,

  • This week we launch the first class of our online dementia care training course. There is still space for you to sign up! But you need to act fast! Click here for more information!
  • We are hosting a listening session for caregivers on Tuesday, August 20 at 5 pm at our Charleston office to gather experiences in hospital and other acute care settings. This listening session is a grant funded project. We need to hear from you! RSVP by calling 304-343-2717 or email
  • Stay tuned to our Facebook page for announcements about upcoming Walk team events! Want us to feature yours? Email us at

I <3 pizza! And I especially love homemade pizza! The possibilities are endless, oh the cheese, vegetables & meats that you can pile in to create your favorite concoction. 

As you know this blog is dedicated as a reminder to do something for yourself. To fit in moments of joy in the everyday. And pizza is just that. We hear from a number of caregivers the great joy of incorporating their loved one with Alzheimer's disease in the kitchen. From reminiscing to the activity of cooking - it is a great way to keep your loved one active and connected. The ease of assembly, and creativity of toppings make pizza the perfect project to take on together. 

The Dough: Store bought pizza crust is perfectly acceptable! But if you are in the mood for homemade dough - this is a great one! Chef's note: I am a terrible bread maker, but for some reason this pizza crust comes together perfectly! 

In an electric mixer, combine 1 package of active dry yeast,  1 1/2 cups of warm water (after lots of trial and error (with thermometers for the perfect temperature), I learned to just turn the tap on hot), 1 tbs. honey & 1 tbs. oil.

Allow the yeast to bloom for 10-15 minutes. It should look a lot like this:

Stir in 1 3/4 cups of flour, until the dough is sticky. 

Pound out your stress by kneading the dough. 

Then cover and place in a warm place for 2 hours to rise. 

While your dough is rising, you can spend a little R&R time - OR make your own pizza sauce. I love making my own sauce - you can make it, then whatever you don't use works great lasagna or spaghetti tomorrow night! Start with a swirl of oil over medium heat. Add 1/2 of chopped onions, and a few cloves of garlic. At this point, it is good to stop and pay attention to how many cloves of garlic you are adding. This particular night....well let's just say there aren't any vampires on my block! 

It is hard to explain the exact ration of the below seasonings. But I add a small handful!

Add 1 small can of tomato paste, then 1 can of tomato puree. 

This next step is optional, but I love the flavor wine adds to a good red sauce. I add around 1/4 cup - and hard lesson to learn, but always use wine you would drink. Bad wine makes bad sauce. 

Hey! Look at that, the dough has risen! 

Dollop on your homemade sauce! 

And decorate at will! Tonight we went classic - mushrooms, pepperoni and LOTS of CHEESE! 

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until the crust is the browness you desire... Wow! Wow! 

Yes, it is as delicious as it looks!! 

Until next week! 

Laurel K.

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