This week, Don and Donni Reddington of Washington state’s Methow Valley are on a mission to encourage people with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones. Starting July 4, this father-daughter pair is embarking on a groundbreaking 10-day motorcycle and sidecar tour: the Ride4Alzheimer’s.
With stops in Bellingham, Seattle, Olympia, Yakima, Spokane and Wenatchee, the Reddingtons aim to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s while connecting with others touched by the disease.
Each stop will feature a free rally for people with dementia, their loved ones, and all who support a dementia-friendly community. The rallies, hosted by local partner organizations, will include food, music, speakers, and resources for support and education.
For Don Reddington, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s several years ago, the trip is a natural next step in his efforts to reach out and help others. In 2015, he wrote a series of articles about his experience with dementia, published as “The Reddington Project” by the Methow Valley News. These honest, inspiring reflections helped carry his message that, even in the midst of challenge, “life is good.”
Now, he’s boldly carrying that message across the state.
“For Don, it’s all about encouraging other people who have dementia,” says his daughter, Donni. “He wants people to know that there is life beyond diagnosis. You can find ways to cope and make the most of each day.”
Meanwhile, for Donni, the trip is a chance to raise awareness, while spending quality time with her father.
“It’s special to me, because you never know, it could be our last big adventure,” says Donni. “I’m looking forward to being together out there on the road. And I’m excited to help my dad spread his message.”
With over 100,000 Washingtonians, and over 5 million Americans, living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, there’s a huge audience for this kind of tour. And for many, it could be the first time they’ve heard the kind of uplifting message Don brings, or the first time to connect with others who understand.
Too often, a diagnosis can lead to social isolation. Although people with dementia remain vital members of the community, social stigma or other barriers can prevent them from remaining involved. That’s where efforts like the Ride4Alzheimer’s – and other initiatives promoting dementia-friendly communities – can make such a difference.
Marigrace Becker, University of Washington Memory & Brain Wellness Center’s program manager for community education, will be joining the Ride4Alzheimer’s tour to spark interest and action around dementia-friendly communities along the way. (ChangingAging Editor Kavan Peterson will be along for the ride from Bellingham to Seattle)
“Don and Donni are making a powerful statement that we all need to hear,” says Becker. “For too long, we’ve let fear and shame define the dementia experience. It’s time to come together as a community and ensure that everybody has a chance to stay connected and engaged.”
Would you like to join the Reddingtons for their adventure? Attend a Ride4Alzheimer’s rally near you. Rally locations are listed below. Find more information at www.ride4alzheimers.net.
5 – 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 5: Bellingham – Boundary Bay Brewery
4 – 6 p.m. Thursday, July 6: Seattle – Greenwood Senior Center
1 -3 p.m. Friday, July 7: Olympia – Lacey Senior Center
1 – 3 p.m. Monday, July 10: Yakima – Fieldstone Memory Care
1 – 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 11: Spokane – Rockwood South Hill
12 – 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 12: Wenatchee – Pybus Public Market
The Ride4Alzheimer’s is made possible by generous sponsors including Icon Motosports, Giant Loop Moto, Sena and Blue Star Coffee.