In honor of National Volunteer Week, we want to show our appreciation for the advocates who help us secure policy victories at the federal and state level to improve the lives of everyone impacted by Alzheimer’s. Each year thousands of you lend your voice and time to share your story with policymakers to make an impact in the lives of millions. We thank each of you for all you do to make Alzheimer’s a national priority.
There are many reasons we were disappointed to have to cancel the 2020 AIM Advocacy Forum, our signature grassroots event, but chief among them was missing out on the opportunity to say thank you in person and to honor our advocates. So, as with so many things these days, we’re going to celebrate our 2020 AIM Advocacy Forum honorees virtually.
During the Forum we planned to give awards to our Alzheimer’s Congressional Team of the Year, Young Advocate of the Year and Advocate of the Year. These advocates have gone above and beyond in the fight, take a look below to read about their incredible accomplishments. And you can send them a note to congratulate each of them.
2020 Alzheimer’s Congressional Team (ACT) of the Year
This year we’re honoring the ACT team representing Michigan’s eighth Congressional district. In the last year, they’ve had too many meetings and interactions with their elected officials to count!
Melissa Vecchi, chair of the Detroit Walk to End Alzheimer's, and daughter Sophia are an amazing mother-daughter duo who have quickly built a strong relatipship with Rep. Elissa Slotkin. Bertha Bullen and Jim Kruse are a husband and wife team sharing their story with policymakers and serving as Advocacy Chair of the Lansing Walk to help get more people involved with our advocacy efforts. And, Lauren Kovach is making her voice heard testifying in front of the Senate Finance Committee, appearing in a campaign ad for Sen. Stabenow, and serving on Rep. Slotkin’s volunteer advisory committee on health.
Together, the team secured Rep. Slotkin as a cosponsor of both the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer's Act and the Younger-Onset Alzheimer's Act. The ACT members also worked individually to educate Michigan Sens. Stabenow and Peters on both bills and helped secure their strong support. They make their voices heard on social media, in letters to the editor, attending town halls and more.
2020 Young Advocate of the Year
At the age of 12, Maggie Dockery is our youngest ever Young Advocate of the Year. Maggie was impacted by Alzheimer’s disease when her grandfather was diagnosed when she was six years old and her mom became his caregiver. When her grandfather passed away Maggie decided that she did not want to see her mom or dad go through what he went through.
Maggie participates in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and the Longest Day, and determined to make her voice heard, Maggie set up a lemonade stand to raise money to attend the Advocacy Forum. She has attended town halls with Rep. Adam Kinzinger and decided it would be her mission to meet and share her story with as many Illinois representatives as possible, getting a picture at every stop along the way.
Maggie’s advocacy extends beyond federal work, she has met with her state Senator Patrick Joyce to express the needs of people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia.
Her determination and tenacity isn’t limited to “official” events, she’s engaging her classmates in the fight to #ENDALZ, wearing purple everywhere she goes.
2020 AIM Advocate of the Year
For the last six years Jeannie Castells has used her voice in the fight to end Alzheimer’s. A former caregiver, Jeannie knows firsthand the devastation Alzheimer’s has on families, and it is why she has dedicated so much of her time to advocate for families like hers.
A steadfast advocate, Jeannie is serving as an Ambassador to Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-07), is an ACT Team member for Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-09), and a state champion for Assemblyman Daniel Benson (D-NJ-14), and is a member of the AIM Leadership Society.
Jeannie speaks at Congressional town halls, engages elected officials on social media and through local media, participates in the District-Forum-District program and more. Her efforts are being noticed, and policymakers are acting. Her Congressman has shared her story on the House floor and shared her story with his constituents. And, when Rep. Malinowski was first elected to office, she was quick to make an introduction and ensure Alzheimer’s was a top priority, meeting with him prior to him officially taking office.
Her commitment to the cause extends beyond the halls of Congress. Jeannie has raised awareness participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and the Longest Day, and she even created a podcast to share her story
This National Volunteer Appreciation Week we salute each of our 2020 AIM Advocacy Forum honorees and each of you for all you do in the fight to #ENDALZ. Tell us why you’re an advocate today.