NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas — At least 400,000 Texans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
There is no cure yet, but the Alzheimer’s Association is funding hundreds of research projects in an effort to change that.
Their annual walks which raise money for the nonprofit, look very different this year.
A woman in New Braunfels is inspiring many of her neighbors to get involved.
“My mom loved to make homemade bread, [my dad] loved playing bass guitar,” said Tracy Gibbons as she scrolled through pictures of her parents on her phone.
“They did everything together. In fact, every night when they went to bed, they would hold hands when they went to sleep,” said Gibbons.
She says her parent’s love was like a Maya Angelou quote; it recognized no barriers.
“She was diagnosed about six years ago and my dad has been was her caregiver for all those years,” said Gibbons.
Not even Alzheimer’s disease could break Jim and Anna Crissman’s bond.
“Watching people decline from that is really hard. It's very emotional,” said Gibbons. “If you have someone that cares about you enough to take care of you, then you're very blessed. My mom was blessed with my dad.”
2020 brought a new challenge and another diagnosis. This summer, Jim and Anna Crissman both tested positive for the Coronavirus.
Gibbons and her husband Fred drove from New Braunfels to Southeast Texas every weekend to check on her ill parents. The Crissmans were eventually hospitalized in Beaumont.
“They actually celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary while they were in the hospital together,” said Gibbons. “He passed away on the 19th of July and mom passed away on August 4th. He actually died from COVID. Mom actually got over COVID … she came home but then she died a few days later. It's a tough year for us for sure.”
Gibbons just buried her parents but she says her grief is precisely why she, her husband Fred, and their dog Mickey, wouldn’t miss this year’s Alzheimer’s Association walk in New Braunfels. She’s been supporting the nonprofit for several years.
“This one’s personal to us, so it makes us want to do it twice as twice as hard,” said Gibbons.
Her passion has inspired many neighbors to get involved. Gibbons has been named the top individual fundraiser for the New Braunfels walk, raising almost $6,000 so far this year.
Instead of flowers at her parents’ funerals, she asked for donations to be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Gibbons also teamed up with a friend to create masks which she’s still giving out for donations. The proceeds add to her fundraising goal.
The event is self-paced this year with participants walking on their own. Sign-up is free.
KENS5 Hill Country Reporter Leah Durain is virtually hosting the opening ceremony online Saturday, October 10th at 9 a.m. She will share how participants are helping the Alzhiemer’s Association further their work by walking from their own doorsteps or through their neighborhoods.
Gibbons hopes her efforts will help researchers find a cure.
“The big thing we're trying to do here is just build the awareness,” said Fred Gibbons. “ [I hope] that we can prevent people from going through some stuff we went through.”
Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Hotline: (800) 272-3900