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In My Community
Chester's Cheetahs - On the Hunt for a Cure
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Shirley Sternig, a self-proclaimed introvert, shies away from the public spotlight at all costs.  And yet, this unassuming woman is an extremely passionate advocate and fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin.  She is the leader of “Chester’s Cheetah’s”, one of the most successful Walk to End Alzheimer’s family teams in Milwaukee County.   Since 1999, Chester’s Cheetah’s has raised an amazing $50,923 in the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease. 

Shirley, along with her four siblings, Ron, Linda, Carleen, and twin-sister Sheryl, spearhead the annual family effort in honor of their father, Chester Cieslak, who died in 2002 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.  “I saw what my dad went through as he battled this horrible disease,” said Shirley.  “That’s why I’m involved -because I don’t want Alzheimer’s disease to affect me or anyone else.  Our entire family is concerned, so in addition to the Walk, we also participate in Alzheimer’s research through the WRAP program in Madison.”  Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP) is a nationally recognized study of over 1300 asymptomatic adult children of persons with Alzheimer's disease with a primary goal to identify the genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that eventually lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease in susceptible persons.

Shirley isn’t quite sure why her Walk team selected the name “Cheetahs”, but highly suspects the inspiration came from Chester, the official Cheetos mascot.   Every year, for the last 14, more than a dozen family members have gathered in early October at Mount Mary College to honor their beloved father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and uncle, Chester. “My favorite part of the Walk, believe it or not, is raising the money,” said Shirley.  “I send out over 200 personal letters with stamped, self- addressed return envelopes to people on my Christmas card list, co-workers and email list, and request a donation for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  I also post it on Facebook.” 

Over the years, Shirley and her entire family have also contributed a large number of volunteer hours to support the Walks.  Her sisters, Linda and Carleen, have also put in many volunteer hours helping with the annual  Mardi Gras in February and throughout the year at the Alzheimer’s Association office.  In addition to serving on committees,  Shirley and Carleen, served as co-chairs for the Milwaukee County Walks in 2006 and 2007.  “That experience really helped me grow, because I wasn’t naturally comfortable leading a meeting or speaking in public,” said Shirley.  “But I went on TV and radio to promote the Walk, and our events were very successful, with one of the highest walker and overall fundraising turnouts ever.”

Today, Shirley actually wears her heart on her sleeve – or should we say “wrist” – in the form of a tattoo with the Alzheimer’s logo.  “I always said I wanted to get a tattoo to honor my dad, Chester,” she said.  Shirley’s daughter, Sara, started the trend, and Mom proudly followed suit on the ten-year anniversary of Chester’s passing last October.  “It’s a way to carry around his memory forever.”

Chester would be proud of his family.


Chester Cieslak

 


 

Alzheimer's Association

Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.