By 2020-2021 Club President Jamie Wibbenmeyer, Rotary Club of Plymouth Foothills, California
It all began in April 2020, when I, as club president-elect, attended Rotary PETs training and had the “AHAH Moment”. Watching the impact of Alzheimers on a good friend, Lacy, and her spouse, Tom, a fellow Rotarian, brought about the idea of doing a fundraising project to fight Alzheimers. When I brought this to the members of our Board of Directors, they immediately embraced the idea and we began to focus on ways to raise funds for Alzhiemers support and research.
We decided to use the Walk to End Alzheimer’s organized by the Northern California & Northern Nevada Alzheimer’s Association as the method to fundraise. While I was certain our club members would rally behind this effort, as we’ve all seen the impact this disease had on Lacy and Tom, little did I realize how many of our members have been impacted by this disease and, hence, the level of participation. This year, with Covid affecting the event, the main fundraising was done on-line with a neighborhood walk on September 26. The Alzheimers’ platform allowed us to register as a Team with each member having their own page. All of us had an unique url to send to our friends and family to raise funds which then populated to our Team page. Two of our members pledged matching funds and used Facebook to promote widely. Within 24 hours of launching Team Rotary Club of Plymouth Foothills on the internet, we had raised $5,000 as each of our members pledged individually! Each week, we watched the total grow and had fun challenging members to raise more at each meeting,
Our “real” walk was organized by our Community Chair and involved a one mile walk through a new subdivision, Zinfandel Ridge, in our rural area. Members who could not participate in the neighborhood walk were encouraged to walk at their homes. Donning masks, our members walked the half mile to the “Garden” to plant their flowers in honor of their loved ones afflicted with the disease. We were also able to meet some of our new neighbors as they showed up to support our efforts and the club collected another $1,000!
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, of more than 100 participating Rotary clubs nationwide, our club was third in fundraising. The $12,200 that we collected earned us the “Newbie of the Year Award” in our district and has directed me to a new passion in my life. I’m looking forward to expanding this walk post-Covid by encouraging Rotarians throughout our nation and the world to participate in this worthy cause!