The Harrington Family at the Cottage - (left ) Pee Wee, Tim, Jr., Rob and Tim, Sr.
Tim Harrington, Sr. was an avid golfer. That’s why it seems particularly fitting that after his death in 2009, his two sons, Rob and Tim, Jr., established a golf outing to commemorate their father’s love for the sport, and to raise money to fight the disease that he lived with for over ten years – Alzheimer’s disease.
“The golf outing was really Tim’s brain child,” said Rob. The whole idea just made sense to Tim. After all, the boys had spent countless hours during their lives at a vacation cottage in Eagle, Wisconsin. The cottage, which the family has rented for more than 40 years, is located about 40 feet away from Eagle Springs golf course. This home-away-from-home allowed the boys to share their father’s passion for golf. “Rob and I realized we couldn’t have our dad back,” said Tim, “but through this golf outing I knew we could rekindle memories of the many good years we had and enjoyed. It was also a great way for Rob and me to do our small part to make sure that the generations ahead don’t have to experience the trials, frustrations and heartbreak that Alzheimer’s disease brings.”
Tim Harrington, Sr. first started exhibiting problems with memory loss in 1997. In 2001, things began to go downhill quickly for the 66 year old man, after he underwent major surgery to repair an aortic aneurism. “His memory loss became markedly worse,” said Rob. “So much so, that at a certain point, the family made the difficult decision to take away the car keys.” Rob, who is an occasional writer, wrote a poignant poem in 2005, documenting his father’s struggles with Alzheimer’s. The poem was penned during a visit to the family’s beloved Eagle cottage. (see poem below)
Fighting Alzheimer’s disease has become a real passion for Tim, Jr. In addition to coordinating the golf outing, he is also involved with the Alzheimer’s Association as a member of the Public Policy Committee. “The more I learn about the disease, the epidemic, it’s hard not to get involved,” said Tim. “In my role as a volunteer Ambassador with the Alzheimer’s Association, I am a point person that is responsible for keeping Alzheimer’s issues in front of legislators and their staffs. Last year I worked with Senator Kohl’s office, and this year I am the Alzheimer’s Ambassador for Senator Tammy Baldwin.”
As an Alzheimer’s Ambassador, Tim, Jr. has travelled to the Wisconsin State Capitol three times and to Washington, D.C. twice, including his recent advocacy journey to the nation’s capitol in April of 2013. “The 2013 trip to Washington, D.C. was incredible,” said Tim. “Wisconsin had 24 advocates from around the state. That group spoke to ten different members of congress. More and more we are seeing bi-partisan support growing for the Alzheimer’s cause. Our work is very important - just slowing the progression of this disease by five years would cut spending in half.”
The entire Harrington family looks forward each year to the month of August. That is the time they invite family, friends, and members of the general community to participate in a game they dearly love – golf. The 2013 Harrington Open, on August 10th, will be the family’s 4th annual event. The first three golf outings have raised nearly $30,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Whether it’s through golf, poetry, or meeting s with legislators, the Harrington family is committed to putting an end to Alzheimer’s disease and helping individuals who are living with this disease receive the care and support that they require.
A Visit With My Father
by Rob Harrington
At night I watch him read
a story with many pages.
What’s the payoff
of a mystery that ends in a mystery
of a story without a beginning?
He takes me on a walk
to his usual haunts
the clubhouse across the road
Frank and Barb’s by the lake.
Everyone is talking
except for him. Only his
eyes are engaged.
Muscles have memories,
and his are good.
He golfs, swims, walks, skis.
He can drive a car.
But we don’t let him drive.
This morning I leave him
He looks nervous.
So am I.
It’s a morning like countless before.
None I remember.