Saturday, May 30, 2015

Businesses in the community show support for Alzheimer's tour

A nice window display at Husar's House of Fine Diamonds, 131 N. Main St., in downtown West Bend as they show off this year's biking jersey for the Amazing Ride for Alzheimer's. For the third year in a row Husar's donated the jerseys for the three-week tour. A huge thanks to Mike and Mary, Helyn for helping me cobble the whole thing together and Tricia for making the display window look wonderful!

Also a big thanks to the sponsors who help make this possible. The support is so encouraging and the fact 100 percent of the money raised goes to Alzheimer's programs at Cedar Community. All money raised stays local.

Counting down to June 3 when I take off!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Behind the scenes: Prepping for the tour

I'm glad it's raining. It makes it easier to stay indoors and get the million things done before I leave on tour. I deem this - crunch time. My friends say "it's sooooo interesting" why don't you write about it.

Personally, I think it's a little mundane - but I'll take a 10-minute break and let in you in on some of the prep work that goes on behind the scenes.

First, I'm pretending I leave this week. Wednesday, to be exact. This gives me the opportunity to stress out twice. Actually it helps me tie up loose ends, prevents procrastination, and then - in the event of some unknown emergency - I am ready.

As you can see above, I'm writing thank-you notes to all the people who made donations. This year I have homemade stationary!  Thanks to Cedar Community.

I have about 50 of those left. Once the weather clears I'll try to deliver the ones in town on my bike. It'll be good training and I may be able to introduce myself personally. It's that added touch and yes, I do save a stamp. (you're thinking it anyway so I might as well say it.)

My one-day packet project is now turning into four days. I have a team back home that watches out for me. They each get a packet with a house key, all my emergency numbers, my flight info, and copies of my social security card, license, and my will. I know...  morbid - but I'd rather be prepared.

I've also reviewed all my checking and savings accounts and made sure I have a POD - so none of that gets caught up in the courts. Finally the packet includes my credit card numbers and the number if I lose my card or its stolen then I can call my team and they can call to cancel. Yes - I try to think of everything.

I have my bike boxes, my tour jerseys, my tools, tubes, tires are all lying in a somewhat organized pile. I'm trying to cut down my gear by 20 pounds and I'm not having much luck. I know I'm going to hit a lot of up down and hauling around 80 pounds of gear is too much.

You saw Dan Brunner, the guy from Kewaskum walking the Pacific Crest Trail - he's going to be gone five months and all he took was 10 pounds.  Jeesh!

Cables and power cords and European plug adapters OH MY! I haven't even got to that segment of equipment yet.... much less a map of Italy. That sounds like something I should push to the top of my to-do list.

Stay tuned!  Tour leaves June 3!

Music, exercise and rummage therapy are my Rx secrets for Alzheimer's

Took my dad to Kewaskum today for its Village-wide rummage sale. My father is 91 and suffers Alzheimer's. He is mighty fit and farm strong. When he's dressed up (normally for a funeral of someone younger) people say, "Al looks like he's ready to start a corporation."

His appearance is deceiving; my dad is adrift in Alzheimer's in a well-preserved body. His world resets every three seconds. Memory is definitely an issue with repetitive questions, no sense of a current timeline and you can't say, "Do you remember this or that" ... because, no.... he doesn't. 

I found he responds well to music and exercise. Rummage sales are also good therapy. We always used to go to sales together on Saturday morning.

I find it's a good opportunity to drift back into his era - because I know he's never going to be able to step into mine.

At the sales we gravitate to hardware, tools and farm equipment. "What's this," I said holding up a carpentry thingamajig. "That's a planer," he said. My dad was a Mr. Fix It in his prime. "How about that," I said. "It's a horse collar you'd put it over the back of the horses neck......" And there he goes .... it's more words than we've heard in a week.

"Did you have horses when you were growing up," I ask. "Well, yes. Matter of fact I'd have to get up in the morning, milk the cows, load the milk into the wagon and take it to the cheese factory in St. Cloud."

I've heard the stories a million times. But now he's in his element. It's kind of amazing really, because otherwise he says nothing.

A couple of things about the disease - my dad doesn't initiate conversation and when we walk from sale to sale he follows about five paces behind. I'm told that's normal for someone with Alzheimer's.

At each sale I hear the same comment "high prices." It's a hard thing to grasp, this 2015. Maybe my dad is the lucky one - stuck in his era of Happy Days, 15-cent a gallon gas, and when neighbors helped neighbors - because it's what you did.

Today I found a 45 rpm of Elvis with The King on the sleeve. "How much change do you have in your pocket," I asked. My dad pulled out 57 cents and handed it over. It was a good old-fashioned rummage, they took it - happy to make a sale.

We normally don't buy much, but it's quality time and gives my mom some freedom, even if only a couple hours.

After my small purchase, we stopped at a sale by Kewaskum's famed Jules Dreher and then head home.

Getting out of the car my dad turned to me. The look in his eye is very distant. I ask if he was feeling OK and after somewhat of a pause he said, "You owe me 57 cents."

I consider it a miracle. That was more than a half hour ago.... from a guy who can't remember three seconds ago. I laughed. It's a sign - - the rummage therapy works.

I know somebody's in there.... it's up to me to reach him.

I think I'll keep my dad on the hook with that 57 cents... at least for a bit. Selfishly, maybe he'll stay around a little while longer.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Guest speaker at Kettle Moraine Insurance Professionals

A note of thanks to Kettle Moraine Insurance Professionals for the opportunity to be their guest speaker this week. Lots of great stories shared and a huge thanks for the generous donation to this year's Amazing Ride for Alzheimer's.

Next tour leaves June 3 for Italy.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Italy jersey debuted at fundraiser

The latest jersey for this year's Italy bicycle tour made its debut Friday night at the Thrivent Financial fish fry. Many thanks to Husar's House of Fine Diamonds along with tour sponsors USCCA, Thrivent Financial, Extra Mile Snowscape, Salberg Law Firm, Wiedmeyer Trucking, and tour partner Planet Mobile.

This year's tour leaves June 3. All money raised - that's ALL MONEY - goes to Cedar Community and it's music and activities programs for Alzheimer's.

I will be riding in tribute again this year. There are a couple spots open. It's a simple $100 donation and forwarding a photo. That person's picture will be placed at the top of my webpage for the day. Checks can be made out to Cedar Community Foundation - check out the DONATE button on the left side of the page.

Friday, May 15, 2015

2015 tour just weeks away!

This year's Amazing Ride for Alzheimer's tour is coming up quick June 3 and crunch time is here. Sharing a bit of a look behind the scenes - today my new bicycling jerseys arrived. A huge thanks to Helyn Skurzewski and Husar's House of Fine Diamonds for their work designing, ordering and sponsoring the jersey.

There's definitely a new look in store - the jersey will debut tonight at the Thrivent Fish Fry. Be sure to stop by the Washington County Fair Park and take a look.

Another piece of the packing puzzle has also been secured as I picked up my bike boxes from Mountain Outfitters. Owner Kevin Schultz has set me up with solid boxes each year so I can ship my bike to its destination. 

To answer a popular question - 'Yes' my bike travels with me. It's almost become part of the story as I've been riding the same bike since 1982. There's a method to my madness - I know, a newer bike would be far more light weight however I know how to fix this bike, it fits me perfect in the back and shoulders and we've been through a lot together.

My bike was the only thing that arrived during my three-week tour in New Zealand.... and we made it, 27 days together with no luggage. My bike was with me during Tropical Storm Andrew as I pedaled into Maine on July 4 during last year's tour from Nova Scotia to West Bend.

This is the same bike that toured Germany for three weeks, made it around Ireland in two weeks, and brought me back from California, South Carolina, Florida, and Texas. My trusty steed even stood by as I ran the Rock n' Roll Marathon in Seattle and then pedaled home.

This year's tour to Italy takes off June 3. I'm riding again this year to raise awareness for Alzheimer's programs at Cedar Community. The tours help fund music and exercise programs at Cedar Ridge and now The Cottages.

Stay tuned and I humbly thank everyone for their support. 

Come support tour sponsor Thrivent Financial at its Fish Fry tonight

Friday, May 15 at 4 p.m. - 8 p.m.  | $10.00

Event Navigation

Please join the Senior Citizens Activities, Inc. for a Fish Fry sponsored by Thrivent Financial and cooked by Schwai’s at the Washington County Fair Park on Friday, May 15 from 4:00 – 8:00 pm.  Tickets are $10 in advance for Baked or Fried Fish Dinner and $9.00 for Chicken Tenders Dinner.  Carryouts are welcome!  

Tickets are available at the Parks, Recreation & Forestry office through Thursday, May 14 for $2 less than you can purchase at the door.  (I’d be happy to deliver them to you as well.)  Thanks for supporting the Washington County Senior Center!