No-Bad-DaysBy Don Nelson

Don Reddington has graciously taken us along on a personal, often painful journey that he knows has a certain end.

With humility, courage, humor and remarkable resiliency, Don has let us share his private confrontation with Alzheimer’s disease as it gradually erodes his cognitive essence. Don and his wife, Ginger, have never denied the inevitable but have also never surrendered Don’s human dignity or joy of living to the disease’s progress.

In a series of eight articles that appeared last year in the Methow Valley News, “Living with Alzheimer’s,” Don wrote about the disease, its affects, his coping mechanisms and his relationships with family and friends, notably the late Jerry Bristol. While the articles — written in collaboration with Raleigh Bowden, M.D., Katie and Josephine Bristol, and former Methow Valley News reporter Laurelle Walsh — are about Don and Jerry, they are also about us. Don urged all of us to learn about Alzheimer’s and stay engaged with its victims, rather than avoid contact out of ignorance or personal discomfort.

To quote from the eighth of Don’s articles:

“I have been educating myself about Alzheimer’s and talking openly with people about the disease since I received my diagnosis in early 2014. I have found that a lot of people are in denial about having the disease, or are trying to hide it.

“I decided I want to help people with AD who may be denying it, and the family members of people with AD. I want to be open about what my friend Jerry Bristol, who is at a later stage of the disease, and I are going through and about how people with AD would like to be treated. I am a man on a mission.”

The mission continues.

Don and Ginger have received an outpouring of positive feedback, support and gratitude for his generous gift of insight. Many people from around the country have asked for copies of all eight articles. Several months ago, we started a conversation with the Reddingtons about how to make the articles — and other useful information about Alzheimer’s — more widely available. We came up with a partnership and a plan to bring that desire to life.

In July, the Methow Valley News plans to publish Living With Alzheimer’s: the Don Reddington Project, a magazine-style compilation of Don’s eight articles, plus an article about Jerry Bristol and his family, and informative material from the Alzheimer’s Association about recognizing and coping with the disease.

The magazine will be similar to our other special publications, with a glossy four-color cover. It will also feature photography by the Reddington’s daughter Donni, and by local photographer Steve Mitchell. The publication will be free, and we want to print enough copies so that they can be widely distributed.

All of that takes, as you might expect, a fair amount of money for production, printing, postage, distribution and other costs associated with such a publication.

To help cover those costs, the Reddingtons have undertaken a fundraising campaign and are asking for any help people can provide, working through the YouCaring fundraising site. YouCaring describes its mission as “compassionate crowdfunding.”

Here’s how to help:

• Go to www.youcaring.com/ReddingtonProject and follow the simple process.

• Donate at North Cascades Bank in Twisp to The Reddington Project account.

• Drop a check off at the Methow Valley News office, made out to The Reddington Project.

We are publishing Living With Alzheimer’s in partnership with the Lookout Coalition at Room One in Twisp, which is providing some seed money to jump-start the fundraising campaign. The Reddingtons have decided that any funds they are able to generate that aren’t needed for production will go back to Room One. All donors will be recognized in the magazine, unless they choose to remain anonymous. The Methow Valley News will also be offering advertising opportunities for those who want to be associated with the project.

Don offered his own thoughts about the project recently:

“Many people ask me how I’m doing. My consistent response is, ‘Life is good.’ Let’s keep the momentum of learning about Living with Alzheimer’s moving forward. Please make whatever donation you think is appropriate to help us get the story published.”

 

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