MARQUETTE - Shelby Bischoff and Melissa Lutrell of Marquette recently attended a national Alzheimer's Forum in Washington, D.C.
In fact, Bischoff was chosen to speak to an assembly of delegates from all 50 states during the forum. She reported to the group on what has been accomplished in Michigan in the past year in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.
The experience was profound, Bischoff said.
Shelby Bischoff of Marquette poses with Harry Johns, the national president of the Alzheimer's Association during a forum in Washington, D.C., recently. Bischoff addressed the gathering as the representative for the entire state of Michigan. (Submitted photo)
"It has been an honor to represent the Upper Peninsula and the State of Michigan on behalf of the Alzheimer's Association and mBank," Bischoff said. "Visiting Washington, D.C., for the forum truly brings out the need for financial and emotional support from our government.
"Families dealing with Alzheimer's across the State of Michigan and the United States are not being reimbursed for caregiving expenses. Caring for someone with Alzheimer's is a 24/7 job and many caregivers suffer emotionally and physically. Meeting with other ambassadors and advocates from across the U.S. and hearing the stories is heartbreaking."
Bischoff and Lutrell, who is with Marquette Adult Day Services, also spent time meeting with Michigan legislators like Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin and Reps. Dan Benishek, Justin Amash and Gary Peters asking for support for research money for Alzheimer's.
The forum was attended by representatives from all 50 states as well as from Canada and England. The event included a dinner hosted by former "Today" show anchor Meredith Viera that included speeches by Maria Kennedy-Shriver, Jane Seymour and former University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, who has early-onset Alzheimer's.
"Visiting with our representatives in Washington and asking for their support is an important piece for future funding for Alzheimer's disease,' Bischoff said. "We don't have a cure and need more funding for research to find the cure."
The local representative for the Alzheimer's Association was pleased with the area delegates' visit to the nation's capital.
"We are honored to have Shelby and Melissa representing the entire Greater Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association," said Ruth A. Almen, regional director for the Alzheimer's Association Upper Peninsula Region. "As the numbers of baby boomers continue to expand our population living with Alzheimer's disease, it is more important than ever before to keep legislators updated and empowered to make the right decisions on policies and funding for services and research.
"These women are the ones to help us reach our vision of a 'World Without Alzheimer's Disease'."
Bishchoff said there are ways for the public to help in the battle against this memory-stealing disease, citing a walk to raise funds to fight Alzheimer's that takes place annually at a number of sites in Michigan.
"mBank has supported the Walks to End Alzheimer's for and in the past six years," Bischoff said. "Our employees have raised over $39,000. mBank will be supporting the Alzheimer's Association again in 2012 with walks and third-party events in the Upper Peninsula, Mid-Michigan and Lower Michigan.
"I encourage other businesses to join us for our walks here in Michigan. Please go to the website alz.org for more information on a walk or event in your area. Or feel free to call me for more information at 906-225-8710."
More and more people are affected by Alzheimer's every year. Almen provided some new stats for this year:
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.