Orscheln Family Match Letter
The first time I realized that my Dad, Don Orscheln, had Alzheimer’s was on a rafting trip down the Colorado River about 7 years ago. It was my dad’s 80th birthday celebration! What better way to celebrate an 80th birthday than to take a trip down one of the toughest rivers in the country! Dad was an adventurer …a risk taker …he was still in great shape physically …so, why not? He loved bringing the family together. I believe those were his happiest times. As part of the adventure, one evening the guides organized a competition for the best skit. We had to make it up and then act it out only using our sleeping sheets for costumes. Dad was on my team. He could not remember his lines or what he was supposed to do. I could tell he was bothered by his struggle to remember the words and where he should be. It was a short and simple skit, but he really struggled. It was sad to see …it weighed very heavy on my heart. As I sit here and reflect I recall thinking … not my dad …there must be a cure. Well, it is my dad and there is no cure.
You have heard or read other stories from some of my family members in the past regarding how Alzheimer’s has affected our family. So far 3 out of 5 siblings of my grandparents have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My father has the disease as well as my Aunt Edna Caldarello. My Uncle Jerry Orscheln passed away several years ago from Alzheimer’s. So far my Aunt Reba and Aunt Dottie have not had to confront this horrible disease. Again, that’s 3 out of 5 that have or had Alzheimer’s!
Not good news for our generation because the risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases if more than one family member has the disease. The generation to follow (my generation) has 21 girls and 12 boys that potentially have a genetic link to this killer. If we follow the same ratio as my father’s generation, then we will end up with 19 confronting the pain, confusion, and as it stands today, death resulting from Alzheimer’s. It is a scary thought.
The cruel reality is that it is a long, slow process. It’s a life-changing process for the patient of course, but also for the rest of the family who will have to be there for support for many years. If you were able to choose your way out of this life and into the next, this would not be a top pick.
We need to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. It is a particularly difficult challenge, because a person can have the disease for many years before it can be detected. A routine physical or blood work will not pick it up. The Alzheimer’s Association – Mid Missouri Chapter is doing all it can to help those facing this disease. You can help this Chapter carry out its mission by making a contribution. The Orscheln Foundation will maximize your charitable giving by matching dollar for dollar up to $5,000 all contributions received in response to this letter. I hope you will consider making a donation or multi-year pledge commitment to this invaluable organization. Thank you for your consideration.