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Alzheimer's Foundation of America Quilt Remembers Moms
Date:4/30/2008

2008 Tour of Heartfelt Collection Begins Mother's Day Weekend

NEW YORK, April 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Susan McMullan Ledgerwood was only eight when her paternal grandmother, Mary Lou McMullan, passed away from Alzheimer's disease. But she remembers her grandmother's very last hug as vividly as if they were still clinging to each other in a nursing home in rural Mississippi in 1979.

"Her love for me was real," said Ledgerwood of Cushing, OK.

So real that it inspired Ledgerwood to gather photos, quotes and meaningful trinkets like an 1889 Victory Nickel from her grandmother's coin collection; attach them to fabric in her grandmother's favorite pink and green colors; and create a sentimental quilt panel in her memory.

As tempted as she was to keep the finished product, Ledgerwood instead contributed it, as she had planned, to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) Quilt to Remember.

The AFA Quilt to Remember is the nation's first grand-scale quilt composed of heartfelt panels from individuals and organizations across America that pay tribute to those who have or had Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia, and their caregivers or healthcare professionals.

This Mother's Day, AFA is encouraging other families to craft panels for this powerful initiative to celebrate the lives of their loved ones while helping to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. The incidence of the disease is expected to triple to 16 million Americans by mid-century.

About three-quarters of the 100 panels submitted to the collection so far honor or memorialize women -- mothers, grandmothers, aunts and other special women like those who will be recognized this Mother's Day.

Fittingly, the 2008 tour of the AFA Quilt to Remember kicks off on Mother's Day weekend, May 9 to 11, with a display at the Mall of America in Minneapolis. From there, the massive arts project -- measuring the width of six Olympic size swimming pools -- travels to Palm Beach, FL on June 5 and 6, and Washington, DC and San Francisco in September. It has been on the road since it was first unveiled in November 2006 in New York.

"You can feel the warmth that emanates from these quilts," said Eric J. Hall, AFA's president and chief executive officer. "One by one, and as a whole, the panels speak for real people with this devastating disease, and they speak for families who want to share cherished memories."

Ledgerwood, a novice sewer, called it a "beautiful and remarkable experience" to make the quilt.

"I did not make this to hide in a house," she said. "I made it so that Grandma's legacy can continue...so that her death from this disease may not be in vain."

To reinforce that sentiment, her panel includes a prayer box, "asking that the message behind this quilt be heard and understood."

In submitting a panel, Phyllis Bednarek of Woodridge, IL, approached the project from two vantage points.

"As a nurse, I feel it is very important to make people aware of this disease," she said. "As a daughter, I watched an active, caring and loving person -- my mother, lose the ability to remember my name and the names of my siblings. Her fears became a reality when she was inflicted with the same condition as her mother."

Julie Sefton of Bartlett, TN, strategically patched together only black and white fabrics to memorialize her mother, Lura Walton, who died in June 2005 after a long decline from Alzheimer's disease.

She noted: "It was so hard to travel that road alongside Mom, feeling her frustration, hearing her confusion, and watching the disease continue to nibble away at her abilities...as if we had all been with Dorothy in the Land of Oz and then found ourselves swirling, sinking and slowly watching the colors fade until everything was once again reduced to black and white."

AFA, a national organization focused on providing optimal care to those with dementia and their families, plans to continue to grow the quilt with ongoing contributions. In addition to the 100 already in the collection, more than 300 others are in the works. Panels submitted by individuals measure four feet square and those submitted by organizations are eight feet square.

To find out how to contribute a panel and for tour information, visit http://www.alzquilt.org or call 866-232-8484.

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America is a nonprofit organization based in New York City that focuses on providing optimal care to individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related illnesses, and their families, and unites 800 member organizations nationwide that provide hands-on programs. AFA's services include a toll-free hot line with counseling by licensed social workers, a free caregiver magazine, and National Memory Screening Day. For information, call 866-AFA-8484 or visit http://www.alzfdn.org.


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SOURCE Alzheimer's Foundation of America
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