Remember when …

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 Tables of eight are available for $1,000.

— Send your health-and-wellness news to or, or call News Editor Margaret Williams at 251-1333, ext. 152.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.