A Compassionate Mission

By Brittany Krygowski, Junior Committee Vice President

Alzheimer’s is known, for all intents and purposes, as an “old person’s disease.” So it may seem surprising that the members of the CaringKind Junior Committee, virtually all of whom are under age 40, eagerly come together to raise funds to support research and programs benefiting people affected by the disease — those diagnosed, their families, and their caregivers alike.

Some five million Americans live with Alzheimer’s today and, according to certain statistics, that number is projected to triple by 2050. For those 20- and 30-somethings who have been fortunate enough not to bear witness to the devastating effects of the disease, that number may seem abstract, something they inherently understand they should care about, but the magnitude and significance of which they struggle to grasp. And who can blame them? With so much strife and turmoil in the world today, a young person can hardly be faulted for overlooking a disease whose eventuality seems as far in the future as a life without computers or cell phones is in the past.

But many members of the Junior Committee have been touched by Alzheimer's. In fact, most of us are only one degree of separation from Alzheimer’s — ask around the room at any of our monthly meetings and you will hear stories of grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles whose battles with the disease have inspired our young members to continue the fight in their honor. However, the fight against Alzheimer’s is about more than the legacy of those passed. As young donors, our funds aren’t just revenge against the disease for the spoils of the past. They are an investment in the future, in our future as individuals and as a community.

Our generation has been accused of being self-centered, but you wouldn’t know it from our members’ fervent fundraising and passionate participation in events. Though we allocated a portion of our funds last year to research, most of the money we raised went to helping endow some of CaringKind’s programs, which benefit those currently affected by Alzheimer’s who need assistance today. If we envision our time, effort, and money as an investment in the future, how do we reconcile that with funding programs that seemingly exist for the present? Simply put, we understand that the war must be waged on all fronts. As a long-term strategy, we must hedge our investment in the eradication of the disease through prevention and a cure with an investment in the care of those struggling with the disease in the here and now. We can neither neglect to advocate for legislation to support Alzheimer’s research in the future, nor can we neglect to spend time with those diagnosed who need care and compassion.

For those of us who are children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews of Alzheimer’s sufferers, it’s a mission driven as much by compassion and empathy as it is by utility. We understand both the financial detriment to families and the emotional turmoil of watching a loved one’s condition deteriorate. We know the confusion and fear that a diagnosis can bring. We are proud to dedicate our time and energy to CaringKind, an organization that provides desperately needed resources to New Yorkers suffering from dementia and their caregivers. Because we, the members of the Junior Committee, come from many different places and backgrounds and are many different things: some of us are the ambitious kind, some of us are the generous kind, most of us are the busy kind. But all of us are the CaringKind.

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