With ALZ my Heart
"Having a recognized purpose in life, instills you with the drive to pursue and accomplish things. The benefit is living life, not just existing." - Brian
I want to share an experience with you. Actually it is more than an experience, it is my dream, my chosen purpose to pursue while I can.
In my attempt to DO ALL I CAN WHILE I CAN, I recently sent in a self nominated TED Prize application (Click the link for info). It is a contest of ideas or wishes that will make the world a better place. The winner is awarded $1 Million towards the implementation of the idea/wish.
For the last few months I have been working on an idea for a nonprofit to help caregivers. I did not know about the TED Prize contest. I was just planning it on my own. I shared the idea with certain friends who told me the idea was great and that I should do a TED Talk to help promote it. In the process of researching how to go about getting invited to do a TED Talk I stumbled upon the TED Prize contest. About that same time... My life fell apart.
I returned home from a great trip doing advocacy work at one conference in Atlanta and then flying to Chicago for training to begin starting my year long volunteer work as a spokesperson for the Alzheimer's Association. Without going into the personal details, because of circumstances beyond my control, I lost my family. Immediately I was forced to find a new place to live. Because I would be living on just my social security disability, I could no longer afford to keep my three large dogs. I had to find new homes for them. I few months earlier I had sold my car because I didn't use it much anymore. So now I was without a family, dogs, home or car.
After I found a home for my dogs, I had to make a BIG decision. Should I buy a cheap car and live out of it, essentially homeless, or get an apartment. I could afford an apartment for what would amount to about 4 or 5 months depending how the little bit of saving I had would hold out. Due to Alzheimer's I wanted to stay in an area that I was very familiar with and could walk to everything. I found such a place and made the decision to get an apartment. The sole reason was that if I went homeless or to the men's shelter I would lose all my advocacy work.
I had an idea and decided to risk everything on it. The idea was to try and get paid for doing the advocacy work I had been doing for free as a volunteer. So I moved into the apartment and began to make plans to become a professional public speaker. I had a lot of experience speaking publicly in the past but that was years ago before being diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Recently I had the opportunity to speak a few times and was awarded with standing ovations. Hopefully they were standing and clapping because they liked my speech and not because they were glad I had finally finished!
So back to the TED Prize.
Once I moved into the apartment I jumped on getting the TED Prize application together because I found out I had less than a week until the annual deadline!! I reached out to my Facebook friends for some editing help and was able to turn the application in one day early. Phew!
I should find out by the end of September if I make it into the top 15. Then I think by the end of October or somewhere around then they will choose a winner. Trust me... I will let you know!
The application limited you to 1,000 characters or spaces. Not 1,000 words. So I had to condense a lot of information into a very small space. Here is what I wrote...
Globally, 100 million+ people are caring full-time for loved ones with long-term terminal diseases. Many of those caregivers have no help and are financially and emotionally overwhelmed. Most are senior citizens. In the U.S., the government has totally failed them. I asked myself, who else could help? Two answers. 1) Faith-based communities! They have the important resources: people and LOVE. Faith-based communities are everywhere, just like caregivers, in some cases probably within blocks of each other. 2) Aging/disease-focused businesses, non-profits and medical research, who can bring advice, tools and training. My wish: connect these groups to bring help to millions in a multitude of win/win connections. HOW: Targeted crowdsourcing along with social media, and a hub-based website hosted by a small non-profit (scalable and duplicatable). Tenets of faith are based on LOVE. Love your neighbors, enemies, the poor and needy. This should be something we can ALL fix. We have the love.
P.S. I decided not to wait to see if I win the TED Prize. So, I used some of the money I have left to live on to create a charitable nonprofit, I named Faith2Care. The website and the nonprofit will hopefully launch very soon! So keep a lookout for faith2care.org and get involved helping millions of Caregivers!