Rachel Ratliff

Hi friends and family! I wanted to let you know of a personal passion project of mine: my brother Aaron and I will be running the Jungfrau Marathon in the Alps on September 12, 2015. I am very excited about this – my first marathon! – but also am a little scared of the challenge of it all. One of the things that will keep me going during those long miles and physical pain will be the image of my grandfather, Louis Amite Ratliff, who is living with the ravages of Alzheimer’s for whom I am dedicating this effort.

They say memories last forever – which is a beautiful thought, but not a reality if you have a disease which impairs your memory. My grandfather is 93 years old. His Alzheimer’s diagnosis came the winter of 2015. The decline in his mental capabilities since January of this year have been sadly very significant.

One of my fondest childhood memories of my grandfather was watching him dance. At Woodloch Resort, the family would gather in the Heritage Entertainment Hall to watch him dance the Lindy Hop, his specialty. Into his 80’s he would light up the dance floor with vivacious energy and quick feet whirling around Gramme, cousin Casey, or my Aunt Jane. I always wondered why he liked the grandkids to call him Pop-pop, rather than Grandpa, but during these times it made sense because to me he would “pop” across the dance floor. The rhythm and energy he possessed was mesmerizing and inspiring.

Pop-pop was born June 12, 1922 in Bowling Green, Florida to a working class family. He got a job out of high school with AT&T, eventually working his way up to Telephone Long Lines Executive where he worked for 40 years. His rich history also included enlisting and growing up in the Army. He fought in WWII and the Italian campaign. Among my grandfather’s greatest memories, he and his fellow soldiers trekked through the Alps in the Brenner Pass from Italy to Austria and then on to Germany. He loved reminiscing and sharing the adventures with his children and grandchildren. All beautiful and vivid memories, at the time.

As a tribute to a boy, a man, a grandfather that we respect and love, my brother Aaron and I will be running the Jungfrau Marathon in the Alps on September 12, 2015. During our run, we will remember and cherish the memories of our grandfather and his stories passing through Alps. We dedicate our run to our grandfather and the countless others who we cherish as healthy today but may one day be diagnosed with this disease. I have no doubt that having these images and memories in my mind as I run will be a powerful impetus to keep going!

Obviously, with Alzheimer’s in our family, I am much more attuned to impact of this disease on families and our country. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will grow each year as the size and proportion of the U.S. population age 65 and older continue to increase. By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million — a 40 percent increase from the 5.1 million age 65 and older affected in 2015”. That is staggering to me.

Cure Alzheimer’s Fund was chosen because they are focused on funding targeted research on finding a cure and Charity Navigator gives them a 4.8/5 for their public accountability and transparency scores.

I would LOVE to have you join me in raising funds to support this cause. 100% of your donation will go to research. I’ve personally donated $100 to get things started. There is no minimum donation, every amount is appreciated and will work towards researching a cure.

And if now is not a good time for a donation I totally understand! I would appreciate your kind words and positive thoughts to complete the marathon. Thanks for reading!