Gabe Coleman ’24 knows well what Alzheimer’s disease can do to loved ones and the families who support them. His grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s and Coleman has witnessed its devastating effects firsthand as she progressed in the disease. The past two years were particularly challenging as COVID restrictions prevented him and his parents from making more open and unhindered visits to her assisted living and memory care facility.
But Coleman is using his creativity, writing and photography skills and compassionate spirit to make meaningful change – both for his grandmother, and others who are experiencing Alzheimer’s disease in their family. He has been working closely with the Alzheimer’s Association to bring important awareness to the cause.
Coleman has been creating videos and conducting interviews for the association during the past year and also organizing donation boxes at two area memory care facilities to raise awareness and funds to combat the disease. He also has written blogs posts to share stories of others’ experiences with Alzheimer’s for the Alzheimer’s Association in Florida. One outlining his story and his grandmother’s is here. The Alzheimer’s Association of Florida has been working with Coleman as a spokesperson for the organization, encouraging the community to support the group and its fundraising efforts.
“I hope others learn there’s hope and that’s something we’re not going to give up on,” Coleman said in one video for Starling at Nocatee Assisted Living & Memory Care.
Coleman’s work ramped up in recent months in preparation for Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in November and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, originally scheduled for November 2. He started a fundraising team and solicited friends, family and peers for support. In the first few weeks of fundraising, he was about to raise $5,000 for the walk – double the amount of donations he achieved the year before. But as the walk – which was rescheduled to December 4 at the University of North Florida due to the poor weather conditions – got closer, Coleman’s fundraising efforts approached more than $10,000. That figure is five times larger than his first-year yield for the organization.
Coleman literally bridged new territory in fundraising and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association. He worked directly with city and Jacksonville Transportation Authority officials to light the Acosta Bridge purple for Alzheimer’s awareness month in November.
“The bridge is a step in the direction of raising awareness for the disease,” Coleman said in an interview.
We are #BulldogProud of your community service work, Gabe! Bets Bulldog wishes to you and your fundraising team at the December 4 walk!