Raising Alzheimer’s awareness

June 18th, 2015 10:26 am

First Posted: 2/16/2015

Amy Clegg, South Abington Township, is one of six children. Her father, Hugh Dougher, Jr. 88, lost his battle with Alzheimer’s on Dec. 17.

“It (Alzheimer’s) is a terrible way to go,” said Clegg. “It was so hard to see him not recognize us anymore, especially the grandchildren.”

Clegg, owner of Express Employment Professionals, Scranton, decided to help the Abington Heights Civic League, Inc. (AHCL) raise money for Alzheimer’s by becoming a pearl sponsor of the Roaring ’20s Gala to be held from 6 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, March 28 at the Country Club of Scranton, 1001 Morgan Hwy. in Clarks Summit.

“I want to be an advocate and support system for friends or others who go through this,” she said. “The amazing sacrifice my mom and brother gave to keep my dad at home through all of this is incredible. We know my dad recognized it.”

A World War II Navy veteran, Dougher was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2008 when he was 80 years old, though Clegg said it wasn’t the first appearance of symptoms.

“We all saw signs of dementia, but he always had troubles with names and details,” she said. “We noticed things.”

Clegg described the progression of his symptoms as “a continuously gradual loss.”

“You wouldn’t notice unless you weren’t around him for a while,” she said.

Little by little and year after year, his condition worsened and, for the last four or five years of his life, Clegg said her mother, 86-year-old Joan Dougher, and brother, Shawn, were Hugh Dougher’s primary caregivers.

Gretchen Ann Eagen, AHCL Inc. second vice president and Regional Hospital of Scranton healthcare recruiter, and Nancy Brojack-Jeschke, a registered nurse, share an in-depth knowledge of Alzheimer’s. Eagen is a caregiver for Richard Marquardt, Waverly, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s approximately nine years ago.

Eagen and Rojack-Jeschke are co-chairs of the Roaring ’20s event.

“This is our annual primary fundraiser,” said Eagen. “AHCL Inc. is a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), one GFWC of PA’s projects is Alzheimer’s Awareness. Cheri Murray, president AHCL Inc. and the AHCL Inc. are proud the club is supporting this project as it is near and dear to several club members. It will bring awareness of the disease to our community, and we will be able recognize loved ones at the gala who are suffering or who have suffered from Alzheimer’s or other memory loss disorders. We will be doing so with luminaries, memories and pictures and anyone can recognize a loved one whether or not he or she attends the gala.”

Mario Cornacchione, D.O., M.S., a specialist in geriatric medicine, research director of the NEPA Memory and Alzheimer’s Center and associate professor and education director of family medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College, will be the honorary speaker.

Tickets to the event are $40 pre-paid and attendees can look forward to an evening that’s fit for a flapper, according to Eagen. Black tie is optional and guests are invited to dress as their favorite ’20s character. A cocktail hour with a cash bar, full buffet sit down dinner, dancing to a mix of Roaring ’20s and contemporary music by Brass & Ivory, photo booth, wine pull and 50/50 raffle are part of the evening’s line up.

Proceeds benefit Alzheimer’s Awareness and other AHCL, Inc. projects.

Primary sponsors for the Gala are The Pines at Clarks Summit, Geisinger-Community Medical Center, Allied Services, Chamberlin & Reinheimer Insurers Inc., Peoples Bank, PNC Bank and The Wright Center.

To purchase tickets, become a sponsor, or recognize a loved one, call Eagen at 570-878-9795 or email geagen@yahoo.com.