Rochester Walk To End Alzheimer’s: Remarks by Jim Gulley

St. Ann’s Community was proud to participate in the 2017 Rochester Walk to End Alzheimer’s. We are also proud to share the remarks given at the event by Jim Gulley, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years ago.

(10/21/17)  I’ve been to many games at Silver Stadium and here at Frontier Field, but I never thought I’d have the microphone…

I grew up in Syracuse and graduated from Lemoyne College along with Rose, my wife of 45 years. I had the privilege of attending high school at St. John’s Atonement Seminary in Montour Falls. I learned quickly about the beauty of this region, the canal, the amazing lakes, glens, waterfalls and richness of the lives of people in Western New York.

Forty years into my first career in computer and network technology, following a stroke and heart surgery, I enrolled in a three-year graduate program and achieved a Masters of Theology degree, beginning my second career. I worked at our church, St. Joseph’s in Penfield, for five years in pastoral care, visiting people who were sick and dying, as well as helping their families with spiritual support, funerals, and their grieving process.

I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago. With the encouragement of our friends Dr. Brian & Cynthia Heppard, Rose and I immersed ourselves in the sometimes frenetic activities of the Alzheimer’s Association, beginning with participation in a local support group where we shared experiences, coping strategies, and caregiving support ideas with each other.

Last year, I was invited to join our regional Early Stage Advisory Council, and this year I was appointed to the National Alzheimer’s Early Stage Advisory Group. Rose and I had the opportunity to travel to the Alzheimer’s Association headquarters in Chicago and to participate in monthly webinar meetings to advise the Association on what we believe is best for those of us living with dementia.

Rose and I are involved with fundraising, helping others in the local Alzheimer’s community, and advocating with local, state and national legislators for increased support for much needed clinical and scientific research and vital funding for in-home care as long as possible. This is my third career. I retired from my position as pastoral assistant at St. Joseph’s in January as my symptoms increased, but I remain an active volunteer there.

Throughout my life I have been blessed with knowing many people who have imparted messages that helped me along the way. But the most important message that I retain is from my father: “Don’t be afraid…it’s OK.” You see, Dad also had Alzheimer’s disease, dying 12 years ago. Both of his parents also had dementia. I’m now focused on doing something that I think is significant in changing the future for our next generation.

The message that Rose and I try to convey is simple: Get help, accept help, have faith, and most importantly, “Be not afraid.”

As you look around this great stadium and see the incredible passion and support that surrounds you today, thousands who are with you on this journey today and every day, I hope that you will remember these three words: Be not afraid.

Thanks very much for being here and for your support of the Alzheimer’s community.

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