It's hard to comprehend what being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease would be like at any age, but Asheville-area resident Karen Zimmerman got the word when she was 51. The director of conference services for Hyatt Hotels in Washington, D.C., she was, in many ways, at the peak of her career, organizing major events for such luminaries as Al Gore.
That was three years ago. And on Sunday, Sept. 18, Zimmerman will share her experiences in a presentation titled "This Couldn't Be Alzheimer's — Could It?" at the First Baptist Church in downtown Weaverville, starting at 6 p.m.
"She wants to get her story out there and build awareness [about the disease], so others aren't dragged along like she was," explains Mary Donnelly, who coordinates the caregiver network for MemoryCare, a nonprofit serving patients and families dealing with Alzheimer's.
"At first, no one knew how to diagnose her," Donnelly recalls, describing what Zimmerman went through while trying figure out why she was having trouble doing her job. Then a neurologist said "Alzheimer's," telling the hotel executive she had about 10 years to live.
For the first part of the presentation, Zimmerman will tell her side of the story — what it's been like since she was diagnosed and what challenges she faces. In a follow-up segment, Donnelly will explain some of the disease’s early signs, and the audience will have a chance to ask questions.
For now, there’s no cure for Alzheimer's, says Donnelly. "Until there is, we've got to know how to identify it and manage it."
The free presentation is open to the public.
For more information, call 645-6720.
Red Cross Ball celebrates 100 years of service
After hurricanes, fires and floods, the Red Cross knows how to clean up, serve a hot meal and make folks feel at home. On Saturday, Oct. 22, the Red Cross of Western North Carolina will apply that talent at the Crowne Plaza in Asheville, treating guests to an elegant evening of live music, fine art and fine dining — complete with red roses.
For one night, the local Red Cross will go black tie on the occasion of the Red Cross Ball: The Celebration of a Century. Sponsored by Asheville Savings Bank, the lavish event will include cocktails, dinner and dancing to the music of local favorites A Social Function.
“The Red Cross is thrilled to celebrate our centennial year with such a fine event and with such fine friends,” says Patrick Fitzsimmons, CEO of the Western North Carolina Region. “We are so pleased that Asheville Savings Bank is sponsoring the ball in their own 75th year.”
In addition to wining, dining and dancing, attendees can take part in a “Fund the Needs” auction of goods and services, making a pledge that directly supports the organization’s humanitarian services to the community. A separate auction will feature fine-art pieces by a number of renowned artists, including Jonas Gerard and George Widener.
Proceeds from the auctions and ticket sales will support the Red Cross' regional work. Single tickets for the Red Cross Ball are $125 and may be purchased online at www.redcrosswnc.org. Tables of eight are available for $1,000.
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