The Growth and Awareness Group for Alzheimer’s (GAGA)

By Remi Matza

There is something uniquely special about sitting around the dinner table with friends and family and reminiscing about the past. Reflecting on accomplishments, telling funny stories, and thinking nostalgically can be quite comforting, yet many people take these simple conversations for granted. 

I myself can admit that the value of human connection isn’t something I think about very often. We are so accustomed to the love, family, and friendship in our lives that we rarely stop to think about how things could be different.

Others, however, do not have the luxury of taking these experiences for granted. One diagnosis can pull the rug out from under someone, and their world can be suddenly changed. 

Every three seconds, someone in the world is faced with this heartbreaking diagnosis. Every three seconds, someone in the world develops dementia.

Dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease, is the most common cause of severe memory loss world-wide. Gradually, minor mishaps (like forgetting where you put your keys) develop into more major issues (such as forgetting where you live) which can sadly develop into complete memory loss (to the extent of not recognizing the faces of your own children). As the disease progresses, patients lose almost all sense of independence, and those special things in life, for instance sitting around the dinner table and reminiscing, become impossible. 

A Byram Hills sophomore’s (name undisclosed) grandfather suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and she explained that “not only has my grandpa’s diagnosis impacted him, but it’s also impacted our family. It’s hard to see someone you love and look up to your whole life have this disease.” 

Families globally endure this same grief everyday, so for the patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and their loving families, a group at Byram Hills wants to make a change. 

The Growth and Awareness Group for Alzheimer’s (GAGA) Team at Byram Hills has worked for several years to help raise money for a cure.  Myself and sophomore Emily Stangel are co-captains of the club, so I wanted to write this article to spread awareness about what we are doing to make a difference. Every year, the GAGA Team takes part in the Walk to End Alzhimer’s at Suny Purchase. However, due to COVID-19, things looked different this year. Instead, on October 4th, we encouraged all of our club members to walk on their own, decked in purple (the color for Alzheimer’s) and spread our message. 

Additionally, our team is still working tirelessly to raise as much money as possible to fund Alzheimer’s research to find a cure. To donate, please visit our team page: https://act.alz.org/site/TR?team_id=616456&pg=team&fr_id=13632#team-roster

Going forward, we need to continue raising funds. To do so, we are hosting a “shop for a cause” at Royal Armonk this Sunday, October 18th. For every purchase you make at the store that day, a portion of the funds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association. Please email matzar23@byramhills.net or stangele23@byramhills.net for more information. 

Lastly, if you are interested in joining our team to raise your own funds for Alzheimer’s, please email us as well.

Human connection: something so simple yet so important. Please, for yourself and the 40 million Alzheimer’s patients in the world, do not take the relationships in your life for granted. Go talk to your parents, meet up with family, and take advantage of the time you have. Reminisce and cherish every moment.