Monday, September 30, 2013

On a Roll, Cabbage That Is

Dear Friends, 
Don't tell anyone, but I am afraid of the dark. As in petrified, paralyzed by fear - I would actually put my fear of the dark in the classification of a phobia. It's been on my mind lately, as I have been traveling a lot - in hotel rooms....alone - barely able to sleep for the soft glow of the TV, but unable to let go of that comforting light. At home I am not able to put anything on my night stand, except my trusty lamp. I wake up in the middle of the night, panic stricken - flailing for relief from the suffocating darkness. After so many broken candles, tumbled over books and magazines, you learn your lesson. I blame my intense fear on an early childhood viewing of the horror movie, "Pet Cemetery." (Might also be connected to my fear of toddlers) (BTW my mom is either laughing or crying or both right now - after 18 years of her hall light on all night)

A thought occurred to me last week when W caught me ridiculously sprinting from the dark kitchen to the safe light of the hallway. 

What if I lost my ability to communicate the fear that drives my bizarre flailing about at night, darting across rooms, or anxiety at turning out the final bit of light before I am safely asleep. How odd I would look with no context to my behavior. 

I share this embarrassing insight into my psyche as a reminder. We all have our fears, loves, hates, odd quirks and strange (to outsiders) rituals. These bits and pieces that make us who we are, don't disappear after a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or dementia, and can sometimes be amplified. The one thing about our loved one with Alzheimer's that is guaranteed to change is his or her ability to verbalize all of this to us as caregivers.  

Next time you are faced with a challenging caregiving situation, imagine me diving through a dark hallway, like a running back straining for the touchdown, reaching for the saving grace of the light switch. First, I hope you laugh a little at this mental image, but most importantly, remember, what is my loved one trying to communicate - what fears, loves, quirks, rituals would illicit this kind of reaction? Or diffuse a challenging situation. 


  • Early Stage Programs: In November we will begin a new educational series - Living with Alzheimer's - designed for individuals in the early stage of Alzheimer's and their care partners. It is a 3-part series, that people can jump in and out of as needed. We will be hosting these workshops in our Charleston, Morgantown and Parkersburg offices. For more information call, 800.272.3900 or email
  • Support Groups This Week: Click here to see a list of support groups happening near you. 
  • WalkTOBER: I can't wait to see everyone in Lewisburg and Morgantown for Walk to End Alzheimer's!! There are already 49 teams registered for the Morgantown Walk!! Fingers crossed for beautiful weather! If you haven't registered your team, it isn't to late! Visit,
  • CMS Decision on Amyloid Imaging: This week the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) handed down their long awaited decision on the use of amyloid imaging in diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. They disappointingly upheld its earlier preliminary decision to only cover brain amyloid imaging under the "coverage with evidence development" (CED) policy. This means CMS will not cover the cost of brain amyloid imaging, except in the context of approved trials. The Alzheimer's Association and a coalition of scientist and physicians have been at the table with CMS, working tirelessly to gain ground on their earlier decision. While this setback is disappointing, this technology is not going away, and we will continue both our scientific and advocacy efforts to connect families with the best in diagnostics. Read our full statement here.
  •  Angel's Perch screenings in West Virginia! Friends in Marlington, Bridgeport, Lewisburg & Martinsburg get your tickets now - Angel's Perch is coming your way!! I also happen to be privy to some very exciting info that will be announced about the film in the next few weeks!! Stay tuned! 

On A Cabbage Roll
If you are new to the Dish, each week I include a recipe as a reminder to take care of yourself, whether it is cooking, going for a walk or a few minutes of meditation - take care of yourself.

I know you've been there before - 1lb of ground beef, staring at you, nagging...use me today or I am going bad. Generally the ground beef nag turns into easy tacos. But, tonight I got a wild hair. Wonder how hard it is to make cabbage rolls? 

So I researched recipes, and I didn't really have all of the ingredients for any of the recipes - but I had most of the ingredients for most of the recipes. They turned out pretty darn tasty, not to mention plenty of left overs! I can't wait to try this recipe again, but hide more vegetables in the filling (similar to my meatloaf).

The Sauce: Start with a glub or so of olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic. Add in tomato puree, I had frozen puree on hand, but 1 can would work great as well! 

Add in 1/2 of a yellow onion, 1 can of crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, 3 tbs of brown sugar. Cook over medium heat until thickened.

Prep the cabbage! Cut out the core (carefully, knives are dangerous people!)

Place the entire head in a big, tall pot of boiling water. 

Filling Time: Start with the pound of nagging ground beef (or 1/2 pork, or chicken, or vegetables would be good too!) Add 1/4 cup of rice, the other half of your onion, 1 tbs of thyme, salt, pepper and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes. And two eggs.

Followed by breadcrumbs (I use 2 pieces of wheat toast, ground), add a few big spoonfuls of your sauce. (Hint: add the sauce after you have mixed everything! Holy how it is hot when you put your hand in there!) Mix by hand (more like mix by squishing it all together)

It is amazing, the leaves of the cabbage just peal right off! 

The assembly turns out to be a piece of cake. Add a 1/3 to 1/2 cup of your mixture into a cabbage leaf, then fold one side over. 

Fold it again!

And again!

Neatly tuck all of your cabbage rolls together, like they love each other! The cover it all with your saucy goodness!

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees - then dive in!

Until next week!
Laurel K.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Don't Wait

Dear Friends,
Yesterday was one of those back-to-back meeting kind of days, starting out with an early morning drive to Morgantown. (Side-bar, we are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place, the mist coming off the mountains yesterday morning was just breathtaking. You don't find those kinds of views from just any interstate.) I didn't have a chance to check the news, twitter or facebook all day, so I was in shock when I switched on the radio for my drive home to hear 12 people were murdered in Washington, D.C. in a mass shooting. My heart breaks for the family and friends of the victims and the shooter.

I suddenly had the urge to race home, gather up my family and hide under a blanket fort.

Our experience with Alzheimer's disease forces us to become acutely aware of how precious and fragile life is, not to take one moment for granted. That we all have just one shot at this great thing we call life. These tragedies are acute reminders that it can all be over in an instant.

So don't wait. Run, don't walk, home and hug the ones you love. Release yourself from the burden of anger or hard feelings. Breathe in this beautiful fall mountain air and truly feel the warmth of this beautiful sunny day on your face. Let your passion guide you to be a force of change. Let the people around you know they are valued and cherished. The moment is fleeting.

Don't wait.


  • Last week we were notified that Congressman McKinley joined the Bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease! To say that we were thrilled was an understatement! Pam from the Congressman's office called on Friday afternoon to let us know. What a way to start the weekend! All of West Virginia's Congressional Representatives are now members of the Task Force. A resounding message from our state to the nation of the importance of addressing Alzheimer's disease! Advocates, our work isn't done - time to get started on recruiting our Senators to the Task Force.
  • It is WALK WEEK! We can't wait to see everyone in Huntington and Elkins this weekend!! If you haven't registered, there is still time! Visit or call us at, 800.272.3900
  • Friday we launched a new website nationally for individuals with Alzheimer's disease. You can visit this new site at, The design was directed by our Early Stage Advisory Council, and the information posted as well as the layout and navigation is designed just for individuals living with Alzheimer's. 
  • This new website goes hand-in-hand with our upcoming Living with Alzheimer's education series. We will be presenting this series in each of our regional offices in November. The educational series is designed for individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer's and their caregivers. Ultimately providing a place for people to come together around life with Alzheimer's. Stay tuned for more details! 
  • Next week I am presenting at the Wellness Council's annual conference. They provide wellness activities for businesses around the state. My topic is caring for the caregivers at your work place. If you could tell your employer something about your caregiving journey, what would it be? Email me your feedback at

Tailgate Caramel Sauce
Last year we got really tough news from the doctor in the middle of football season. And by football season I mean tailgate season. As in, lose 50 lbs or your going to die kind of bad news. I've never dieted, ever. I was raised on a pretty strict healthy diet and enjoy fresh everything. I also have a love of running and exercise. There is a certain account executive in Charleston that tells people I run so I can eat Taco Bell (which is not entirely outside of the truth). 

So when faced with this challenge, I was at a bit of a loss. But scared. I've done the calculations and determined without W, I could survive approximately 1 week and 3 days. 

To make this challenge even harder, it is tailgate season. The few months of the year where every Saturday it is O.K. to cram yourself with the greasiest, unhealthy, sugar laden, salty food.

We tackled healthy living in everyday life and the tailgate pretty handily. But I was stumped at adding something sweet. We were surrounded by people offering up slices of cookie cake and cupcakes, temptation was all around us and it was only a matter of time before our sweet tooth caved in. 

One weekend W's boss brought apple slices and caramel dip. GENIUS! It was just enough sweet to empower us to turn away the blue and gold cookie cake slice. This weekend was our first Saturday in the Blue Lot, so I thought, wonder how hard it is to make caramel sauce? 

Turns out the Pioneer Woman makes it a piece of cake! You can catch her recipe by clicking here

In a saucepan combine 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of half-and-half, 4 tbs of un-salted butter and pinch of salt. (What you see in the pictures is double that amount) (Chef's note: No, I am not a dietitian or nutritionist, nor am I saying eat caramel sauce and lose weight. For us, a dip of caramel on a juicy apple beat the heck out of devouring a slice of cookie cake!

Oooo look you can make fancy butter designs...ok time to stop playing in my food. 

Stir continually for 7ish minutes. You don't want to overcook! Really until all of the ingredients are blended and it starts to thicken. Once you get to this point, remove it from the heat and add 1 tbs. of vanilla extract. 

Let it cool, then place it in the fridge until you are ready for some football! 

It's my tailgate, I can Mississippi State if I want to! 

Until Next Week! 

Laurel K.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Goodbye Summer, Hello Walk!

Dear Friends,
Wow! Wow! Wow, what a week!

I am feeling deeply humbled, overwhelmed with gratitude, extraordinarily energized and empowered! Our 3 walks this weekend kicked off our fall Walk season with a true bang! Including front page coverage in the Parkersburg News & Sentinel! I attended the Eastern Panhandle Walk this weekend, and as always, was overwhelmed by their passion and energy. Even the usually composed W was brimming with excitement. Our volunteer Walk committees did an amazing job, and I can not wait until September 21 for Elkins and Huntingon Walks!! Haven't registered for Walk yet? You can register right NOW by visiting,!

Last week we hosted a round table with Congressman McKinley about Alzheimer's disease and caregiving. The Congressman was attentive, articulate and passionate, and so were our advocates in attendance. The round table was a true testament to the fact that Alzheimer's knows no bounds, even if you are a United States Congressman.

Our round table discussion was also a testament to the true power of advocates. If you are not an advocate, join our advocacy force now! Advocacy is critical to the fight against Alzheimer's. Last week, when Congressman McKinley asked, what can we do to get a handle on this disease? We had passionate advocates in the room able to answer with a resounding message, adequately fund research!

But that meeting was only made possible the the hundreds of advocacy actions completed prior by advocates in McKinley's distrcit. From taking action alerts on legislation, to phone calls, to meeting with staff in their D.C. and West Virginia offices. Want more information about becoming an advocate? Give us a call or send an email to


  • Turn Facebook purple! In honor of World Alzheimer's Month, change your profile picture to the ENDALZ logo. You can find the graphic by clicking here!
  • Calling all volunteers! Have a few hours to help answer phones or want to serve as a Helpline volunteer? Or help us promote Walk by putting up posters and wickets around town? Good with computers and data entry? We need your help! Interested in volunteering, contact us at or call 800.272.3900
  • We are starting to plan our spring educational events. If you are interested in hosting a workshop or think we should bring Caregiver University to your community, let us know! Call or email at 800.272.3900 or
  • The Dancing Through Time planning committee will be meeting next week in Morgantown! Join this fun and fantastic group of volunteers to help plan this entertaining fundraising event!! No dance experience necessary! :) Call or email Christina Beck if you are interested! or 304.599.1159!
  • Walk pictures! Stay tuned to our Facebook page for pictures from Walk to End Alzheimer's! We want your pictures too! Upload your pictures to our Facebook page, or email them to
Gimme S'more Summer
I am a summer girl! The sun, the water, the garden, I love it all. So, this time of year I get a little down thinking about the impending winter. This weekend we had one last ode to summer in celebration of W's Dad's birthday and Grandparents' Day. Eric's nieces have been watching Mickey Mouse have weenie roasts at their clubhouse, so W's mom organized our own weenie roast, just like Mickey & Minnie. And, where there is a weenie roast, you HAVE to have S'mores! My personal favorite dessert of ALL time! The best part, it is easy and fun to make, making s'mores truly a de-stressed dessert! 

You have to start out with a good camp fire! The weenie roasting part is optional, but since you have the fire going - might as well go all out, right? 

Organization is key to good s'more making, so make sure you prep your ingredients. 

With one exception, the minute the chocolate bar was open and visible, I lost my 3 year-old roasting buddy. The great thing about being with Mawmaw and Uncle Laurel, you get all the chocolate bars you want! (Don't tell mommy!) 

There is a science to the perfect marshmallow roast. You have to keep it near the heat to get the inside hot, as soon as you see it getting gooey on the inside, stick it in the fire to burn the outside. 

The next step requires quick reflexes. Using the edges of the gram cracker, scrape the marshmallow onto the gram cracker and quickly add the chocolate on top. You want the heat from the marshmallow to melt the chocolate just enough. 

Now for the most important part. Dig in and enjoy the fire! 

Until next week, 

Laurel K.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


"Sometimes it is not enough to do our best; we must do what is required." Winston Churchill

Dear Friends,
At mile 11 my best ended. I was moving at a pretty good clip for most of the race, able to keep my pace somewhere between 9 and 10 min/mile as I expected. But, as I ran through the Capitol it started lighting, then rain, suddenly my shoes turned to cement boots and my legs to silly string. I checked my watch, my pace had slowed to 11:30, racers were passing me left and right. Self-doubt took over. My legs had nothing left. I checked my fancy race watch, I had only gone .3 miles more. I wasn't going to finish the race.

I looked up, and I could see W on the corner of Elizabeth St. (at 6'5" he is pretty easy to spot from far away). As I slowly neared I could see my mom and W's mom & dad all cheering and waving. Time came to a stop.

I looked at my family cheering me on and it all came back to me why I was there. Earlier that day W finished his 2nd ever 5K, I couldn't be prouder. Exactly one year earlier he was on that exact same corner cheering me on in my first distance run, but 50 lbs. heavier and would have thought you were crazy if you told him he would be racing one year later. Together this summer we kept each other going in our training. He is a true testament to hard work and commitment. I could see in my mom's face, she knew I was struggling. I really do have the greatest mom in the world, she so supportive, even when my activities worry her about my health and safety. Mr. & Mrs. W have made me feel like a part of their family from the moment I met them, always so loving and supportive. Life is good, and beautiful, and I am so lucky to not only have two legs that can take me 11 miles, but I am surrounded by loving people who will get me through the final 4.

I made this 15 mi. commitment to support critical Alzheimer's & dementia research to protect them, us, our future, your family, your future. I made this commitment so that if someone we know is facing this disease, there is a safe, supportive place to not only learn about Alzheimer's and how to live with the disease, but that there is a community to lift them up through the journey of the disease so no one ever has to feel like they are facing this terrible disease alone. It was written as plain as day across the front of my shirt.

Damnit, this mile is worth $40, and so is the next one and the three after that.

I closed my eyes. Smiled. Then picked up the pace.

I would be lying if I said the last 4 miles were smooth sailing to the finish line. I kept reminding myself to keep smiling, in my brain I think everything is easier if you are smiling. As I headed in for for the last .7 mi. I started to doubt that I would be able to finish. I was able to gut out the last 3.5 miles, but I was done. I have never felt that kind of intense fatigue. I am pretty sure my self-talk for that last .5 mi was out loud. And then out of nowhere the entrance to Laidley field appeared. And my great friend and track buddy Marshall was there, I am not sure I have ever been happier to see anyone's face! He gave me a double high-5 as I nearly tumbled into the stadium.

300 meters to go. Hot tears fogged up my sunglasses, I could hear Mrs. W cheering my name from the other side of the stadium. As I rounded the familiar turns of Laidley field, flashes of our great volunteers and staff appeared in my mind, our mission and our upcoming Walk to End Alzheimer's. I saw my mom in the stands and knew I could finish strong. Locked eyes on the finish line and pounded out the last 100 meters.

I know that my 15 miles to END Alzheimer's is a grain of sand in mountain that is the end of Alzheimer's. But, stones, boulders and mountains are made of sand. By putting our passion to work, conquering our own challenges and rallying together we will reach our ultimate vision of a world without Alzheimer's.

Join us.

  • Monday our offices are closed in honor of Labor Day. However, our 24/7 Helpline is always available at 800.272.3900.
  • IT IS WALK WEEK!!! Our first one of the year! We can not wait to see everyone in Beckley, Parkersburg, & Martinsburg! While I wish I could be at all of them, I am headed to Beckley! If you will be at Beckley too, be sure to say hi to W at registration!  
  • Walk week means BANK DAY is Wednesday!! Bank day is your opportunity to turn in your team funds and pick up your Walk to End t-shirts! To find out details about bank day for your Walk, email,
  • CONGRATULATIONS to our newest Walk to End Alzheimer's CHAMPIONS! Each individual raising $500+
    - Jeral Milton, Eastern Panhandle Walk (2nd year!)
    -  Lois Sizemore, Mid-Ohio Valley Walk (2nd year!)
    - Dann Hardman, North Central Walk
    - Carol Miller, Charleston Walk (2nd year!)
    - Renee Morris, Mid-Ohio Valley Walk & Alzheimer's Association staff member!! 
  • Just a reminder upload your photos and Walk to End Alzheimer's fundraising events to our Facebook page! We love sharing! You never know when your idea will spark someone else. 
  • Tuesday we have a meeting with Congressman McKinley in Wheeling. Advocates and caregivers are gathering to talk about their experience with Alzheimer's and what he can do to support families facing Alzheimer's disease. What would you share with Congressman McKinley? Email us at 
Whew! It is going to be a busy week! 

Where's the Beef Tacos

When I am training for a distance race, I am hungry all the time! But, I really lose my taste for meat, so I am always trying different vegetarian dishes. As a Texan, I learned early, tacos are always tasty! W came home from work as dinner was nearly ready. His first question, where's the beef? I couldn't help but laugh out loud, his expression exactly like the grandma in the 80's Wendy's commercial! Don't worry, he ended up really enjoying our meatless filling!

Start with 2 cups of water and 1 cup of lentils in a saucepan over medium heat.

Time for the spices. If you have taco seasoning in a packet add about half of the packet. Our little family is sodium conscious, so I make my own blend, starting with 1/2 tbs. of cumin.
1 tsp. of chili powder (more or less depending on how spicy).
2 tsp. onion powder and 1 tsp. of garlic powder.

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Rinse a can of black beans. I suggest rinsing because often the juice black beans are stored in is chock-full of sodium - and again we are a sodium conscious family!

Stir in the beans with the lentils, and let them simmer together for 5 more minutes or until the beans are warm.

Add as many sides and condiments as you like! I love these little peppers, they are so crisp and flavorful!

At the last minute, juice half a lime into the beans and lentils.
Build your taco to your liking! Salsa, taco sauce, cheese, lettuce, avocado, sour cream..the sky is the limit!

And that's a wrap!

Until next week! 

Laurel K.