In the U.S, more than 6 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Since 2000, deaths from the illness have increased by 145%, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
For Ashli Montgomery, founder and CEO of Quilt to End ALZ, these statistics are personal. Both Ashli and her husband, Philip,have a grandmother who died from Alzheimer’s disease. And in August 2020, they lost Philip’s mom to the devastating illness.
“We have seen the problem, the progression of this disease,” Ashli says. “We have witnessed its truth, and we are resolute and unwavering in our determination to be part of the solution.”
Quilt to End ALZ technically formed in 2019. But Ashli really started the nonprofit in November 2018 as a means to participate in The Longest Day initiative. TLD is an individual-organized campaign in support of the Alzheimer’s Association to raise awareness in local communities. Ashli says the program is 100% advocate driven. Each person chooses their own activity, plans their TLD event and uses their own hobbies and interests to raise funds, knowledge and awareness, all in an effort to end Alzheimer’s disease.
Ashli’s first project for Quilt to End ALZ was a Christmas quilt made with scraps passed down from her late grandmother, Syble. As she shared her work on social media, word spread and she noticed a significant overlap between the quilting community and those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. After an encouraging conversation with a fellow quilter and advocate, Ashli felt compelled to make Quilt to End ALZ a full-time endeavor. On Jan. 21, 2019, what would have been Syble’s 90th birthday, Quilt to End ALZ Inc. was officially established.
“Our mission is to connect quilters — and those who love beautiful quilts — with the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease,” Ashli says.
Today, Ashli and her team at Quilt to End ALZ are organizing a community of people via newsletters and social media platforms who are interested in both quilting and Alzheimer’s information and resources. Through virtual and in-person speaking events for quilt guilds and various organizations across the country, they provide quilters with basic education on Alzheimer’s disease, signs to look for in loved ones and ways to reduce individual risk. Additionally, Quilt to End ALZ sells quilt patterns, fabric kits, completed quilt projects and more through an online store, where 80% of proceeds benefit caregiving, research and education regarding the fatal disease.
Ashli feels the nonprofit’s greatest impact is in the awareness it raises and the education it provides the community. With Quilt to End ALZ, that means consistently including Alzheimer’s data, updates and resources in all quilt communications, projects and social media posts.
“By doing so, I am making Alzheimer’s part of our natural language, decreasing the stigma historically associated with those suffering from the disease, and prompting people across the country to do the same,” Ashli states. “As long as we keep turning up the volume on our determination to save our loved ones — our elderly, our children and our descendants — we have hope.”