Imagining a cure to Alzheimer's with the Armstrongs

Alan and Shelly Armstrong

Growing up in Bartlesville, Alan Armstrong watched his grandmother struggle with Alzheimer’s disease for 14 years. The experience had a lasting impact on Armstrong and his entire family.

"I remember my uncertainty over the ability to communicate with her," says the president and CEO of Williams. "As someone trying to express love and care for her, I always wondered if she was hearing me."

Read more: Caregivers share heart-wrenching stories of dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.

In his grandmother’s honor, Armstrong and his wife, Shelly, are co-chairing the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Gala for the first time this month with longtime Association supporters Susan and Bill Thomas. The 25th annual fundraiser has a hopeful theme: "Imagine a World Without Alzheimer’s. Imagine a Cure by 2025."

As difficult as it was to watch his grandmother and family suffer, Armstrong says it inspired him to support finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. And he can look back and see lessons he learned through the experience.

He says it gave him compassion for colleagues who are caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. "I saw my grandfather’s devotion each and every day" as a caregiver, Armstrong says. "Seeing his character through that helped shape me in a way I would not have experienced otherwise."

March 1 — Imagine: Alzheimer’s Association Memory Gala 25

6:30 p.m. Cox Business Center, 100 Civic Center. Sponsorships are available. Benefits Alzheimer’s Association.


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