Tom and Mary Makkos (center) are surrounded by family on Thanksgiving Day, 2012
“We need to raise money to put an end to this disease,” said Jamie Makkos, a vibrant young professional who learned about the harsh realities of Alzheimer’s disease the hard way. Seven years ago her 55 year-old father Tom was diagnosed, in the prime of life, with Alzheimer’s.
It was a game-changer for the entire family. Tom and wife Mary had planned to travel significantly. But as Tom’s abilities declined, Mary became a full time caregiver. She turned to the Alzheimer’s Association for information, education classes and support. “Caregiving is very stressful,” said Mary. “When God was passing out the patience, I should have asked for a little more.”
“My dad is so young,” said Jamie. “He hasn’t been able to experience things. We hope he can one day enjoy my wedding, but he may never know my children.” That sentiment is something Kelly Strauss, Jamie’s sister, can relate to. “My dad isn’t able to enjoy my three small children,” said Kelly. “ He can’t babysit, feed them or hold them.”
The family, while devastated, has decided to turn this cruel twist of fate into an opportunity to end Alzheimer’s disease for future generations. Over the past several years they have become advocates for Alzheimer’s research and support, and have raised more than $26,000 through annual family-run bowling tournaments and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.