DUXBURY, Mass. — Taking personal pain and turning it into a catalyst to help others can be a remarkable aspect of the human spirit.
That’s what a Duxbury man did after losing his wife to a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Jim Garrett is turning his chain of convenience stores into a battleground to help find a cure and provide services for this devastating disease.
“My wife of 54 years was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 62, very young,” said Garrett. “You lose them and their ability to communicate with you first, and then you finally lose their life.”
Garrett started the “Purple Pump Up” campaign at more than a dozen Garrett’s Family Markets in New England.
Weekly bake sales and customer contributions have generated more than a million dollars over the last 12 years. Garrett’s will also match donations up to $40,000 this year.
This money will help families provide care and fund scientific research.
Garrett said his motivation to launch this annual summer fundraiser was pretty simple after Jane passed away.
“We needed to do something besides sit around and grouse about it.”
155,000 patients are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in Massachusetts and New Hampshire according to Jim Wessler, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association of MA/NH
“It’s a terminal disease,” said Wessler. “A person with Alzheimer’s will live on average 8-10 years after diagnosis and the increasing responsibility and demands on family caregivers in particular is immense.”
Wessler says that’s what makes it the most expensive health condition in the country, and what Garrett is doing so valuable.
The money raised “supports a range of services that we make available to families. . . the funds raised also support our research program. We are the world’s leading non-profit funder of Alzheimer’s and dementia research.”
Garrett would like to the legacy of his efforts to be more than $2 million raised. “Maybe some of the money collected finds that cure.”
Wessler appreciates Garrett’s efforts. “He says this is unacceptable and that we’ve got to do better.”
Another big benefit of this program is it raises awareness, according to Wessler.
All the employees wear purple t-shirts for the entire run of the program and the stores are covered with similarly colored signage and balloons.
Wessler says this brings the disease out of the shadows and gets people talking about it.
Nationally, six million people have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
The Centers for Disease Control list it as the 7th leading cause of death in the United States.
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