A pair of Minnesota sisters is turning the pain of losing their mother to Alzheimer’s disease into purpose.
They were among the thousands of Minnesotans who are caregivers for family members and loved ones who are living with dementia. It's a full-time job often on top of other careers, family and responsibilities and it can be exhausting.
Leah Huxtable and Eva Thompson’s mom Lucy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011. She was a fourth-grade public school teacher and Alzheimer’s awareness advocate since her own mother died from the disease in 1997.
In response, the family formed a team to participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, appropriately named “I Love Lucy!!” But the sisters decided that wasn’t enough and wanted to do more to support everyday caretakers.
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So in 2013, the Bash for Brains fundraiser was born in a Woodbury backyard. The first year the sisters helped raise $7,000. Since then, they've been able to raise more than $640,000, and this year’s event is on Saturday, Sept. 9.
Lucy went to live with the Huxtable family in 2012, eventually meaning her mother and four kids were under Leah’s care.
“A lot of people who deal with dementia patients and caregiving, we call it living life on a loop,” Huxtable said. “You're inundated with the same things over and over and over again”.
Lucy died at the age of 65. The years of caretaking led to a realization that many families didn’t have the resources or opportunity to bring in any professional caregiver service.
“Ultimately, it was detrimental to their own welfare and health,” Huxtable said. “So we wanted to try to not only benefit the Alzheimer's Association but try to make an impact right here in our own community by giving back to families in need”.
In 2018, the Bash for Brains Fund began, facilitating grants to local, everyday caregivers, and has grown ever since. This year, they want to give out 10 $10,000 grants.
The Bash for Brains fundraiser splits proceeds between its fund and the Alzheimer’s Association, thus supporting the community and the search for a cure to the brain degenerative disease.
Tickets to the 2023 event are still available; there’s live entertainment, pull tabs, four food trucks, a silent auction and more in a backyard party in Woodbury. If you can’t go, the sisters encourage donating online. This year’s goal is to raise $225,000.
“We're extremely proud to celebrate our 10-year anniversary,” Thompson said.
Learn more at bashforbrains.com.