Today's Edition Local Missouri National World Opinion Obits Sports GoMidMo Events Classifieds Newsletters Contests Special Sections Jobs
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
story.lead_photo.caption Julie Smith/News TribuneChrista Roehl’s sense of humor and whimsy helped her deal with multiple family members suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Those same attributes fuel her passion to raise awareness, increase education and fundraising to help defeat the disease.

For Christa Roehl, it was the feeling of helplessness that served as her call to action in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.

"It's such a horrible disease, and there's not a cure," she said. "There aren't survivors, and this was the one thing that made me feel I was given power to do something."

For the last few years, many people in Jefferson City associate Roehl with the local effort to end Alzheimer's.

Her first introduction to the disease wasn't uncommon.

Her father had told her that he noticed changes in her mother, but he couldn't quite put his finger on what was happening. Her mother had night terrors in which she couldn't recognize him upon waking. She was having trouble managing her calendar.

Roehl noticed things, too. She would talk to her mother about her parents' plans to visit her family, and her mother would say, "When is this again?"

Roehl suggested to her siblings that they have her mother be evaluated. It was then, in 2015, her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Two years later, Roehl's mother faced more serious effects from the disease, and Roehl decided to attend the local Memory Day. There, she met a woman whose husband had Alzheimer's. She connected Roehl with a local support group.

"That's kind of why I got involved. What wouldn't I do for my mom? She did so much for me," she said.

Since then, Roehl started a team, Team Roehl and Friends, which has become one of the top fundraisers at the Walk to End Alzheimer's. She attended a national Alzheimer's event in New Orleans and chaired the local walk for the next couple years.

Then she, along with others, came up with the idea for a local Alzheimer's Awareness Day.

"The walk can be an uplifting event, but it's still not a very fun topic," she said. "The whole idea of Awareness Day is to do something a little lighter, less of a downer, and just make it an uplifting way to show support. It's completely free. You don't have to spend any money. You can wear purple you own and just be supportive."

This year, Alzheimer's Awareness Day is set for Oct. 5 across Jefferson City and the walk is Oct. 10 at Memorial Park. There's still time to be involved in both.

This year, Roehl is the emcee for the walk and is the chair of the awareness day.

Roehl's team has a goal of $10,000, while the overall goal for the walk is $78,000. Both are about halfway toward their goal.

What does she do to raise money for the cause?

"Beg," she says with a laugh.

She and her team do everything from holding an online fundraiser on Facebook to standing outside Hy-Vee and other stores. One year, her team raised $4,000 just from donations at stores.

"A lot of people say, 'I just figured Alzheimer's, dementia and cancer is what I look forward to when I get old.' I say, 'I refuse to believe that is the price we pay for living longer lives."

Roehl's mother died just shy of her 80th birthday in 2018. However, Roehl's fight continues for everyone else who faces the disease or who could face it in the future.

"It just gives me a sense of satisfaction that I can help people who are walking down a similar path," she said.

For more about Alzheimer's support groups, resources and educational classes, visit alz.org. For care consultation, connect to licensed social workers at 1-800-272-3900. For information about the local Alzheimer's walk, or to sign up, visit alz.org/jcwalk.

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with our commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. Our commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
/** **/