By Usha Tewari
My volunteer journey with the Alzheimer’s Association Central and North Florida Chapter began in October 2017 during the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Orlando. My mom was diagnosed with this dreaded disease and I was afraid to “Google” what to expect during the various stages. I attended the walk alone and sat in the audience listening to the opening ceremonies and speeches. State Representative Scott Plakon’s speech struck a chord with me because I was a caregiver, like him, to my mom and, like him, working in government. It was at that moment I was determined to make a difference advocating for this disease and use my knowledge of government to create a grassroots momentum.
From that day on it was my personal mission to educate someone in my inner circle about Alzeimer’s disease, other dementias and caregiving challenges even while working full-time. If my inner circle is better informed, then that knowledge will be shared with others and create a ripple of awareness.
The time I have devoted as a volunteer has not only increased Alzheiemer’s awareness, but also allowed me to grow stronger as an individual fighting for this cause and to meet fellow dedicated fighters. Volunteers are the lifeline for organizations, but for those impacted by Alzheimer’s and other dementias, especially caregivers, volunteering is that spark that keeps us going.
About Usha Tewari
As an advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association, Usha engages public officials and policymakers in a variety of ways, urging their support for critical Alzheimer’s legislation and policy changes. Usha has served as the Alzheimer’s Ambassador to Congresswoman Val Demings for several years.
During her time as an advocate on the state level, there have been several important advancements in Alzheimer’s state policy including increased funding in dementia research and research care, funding of the statewide Brain Bus program initiative, the appointment of a statewide dementia director and, most recently, the passage of the READY Act, a public health awareness campaign focused on health care providers.
Walk to End Alzheimer’s comittee members motivate their communities to join them in raising important funds and awareness to end Alzheimer’s. Usha has served on the committee in several positions including as co-chair of the event in both 2020 and 2021.