Monday, 30 January 2012

A Meaningful Message

The Alzheimer Society's headquarters in London has a conference room for meetings and presentations. Our family first toured the facility in March of 2011, and we were guided around by Jackie Ellefsen when Alysha brought her initial donation.

Alysha and Jackie
It was during this visit that Jackie mentioned the plaques that adorn several of the chairs in the room. Alysha discovered that a donation of $250 or more would allow her to place a plaque with a message of her choice on one of the chairs. The idea of having a permanent message really motivated our (then) eight year old daughter, and when we discussed it, she was enthusiastic about making her next goal a two hundred and fifty dollar donation to the Society.

There were no more sales to be had from her schoolmates, so we began to think of other places that might be interested in Alysha's bracelets. Jewellery Werx in Lambeth was kind enough to allow her to take advantage of a discount on their beads, and to have a box on the counter for sales of the bracelets. The Alzheimer Society invited her to their volunteer dinner and their Walk For Memories and encouraged her to sell them there. She set up shop in our front yard on summer weekends and got up early to set up a table at a neighbour's garage sale.

Bracelets we selling for either fifty cents or a dollar now, depending on what kinds of beads were on them, but it still took over three hundred individually hand made bracelets to get close to $250. Again, this was a family affair, as beading needles, and boxes and jars of beads took over the living room.

But before the end of September, Alysha was able to take a second donation down to help those at the Alzheimer's Society, as they helped those with this disease. Alysha took some time to decide what message she would leave as a permanent reminder to anyone who used 'her' chair in the conference room.
If you would like to get involved in Beads for Memories, either by placing an order, or donating supplies, please e-mail Alysha at

If you want to read the inspiration behind all of this activity, it's in this post here.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Alzheimer's, Beads, and Alysha

This website is the result of almost a year of work from Alysha Wisniewski and her family. I am Alysha's father, and I am going to begin by telling her story in my words. Let me assure you that, though my ability to tell the story this way is mine, the story itself, and the inspiration for it, are Alysha's alone.

The first thing that you need to know, is that Alysha and Aunt Roz were very great friends. From the very first day they met, Roz simply gushed about how wonderful and beautiful Alysha was, and hung on every word she said. She would tell Alysha's parents and grandparents what a wonderful child she was, and how great it was to have her around.

Alysha was equally in love with Roz. Their meetings would be highly anticipated, Alysha asking at every holiday and family gathering if Roz would be there. They always sat beside one another at dinner, and cuddled up together while the family talked. Every chance they got, they were and inseparable pair. 

As time went on, Alysha grew up. From five years old, to six, and seven, she and Aunt Roz never wavered in their love for one another. As she grew older, the rest of our family had to explain the sad truth about Roz to Alysha. Her favourite aunt was sick. In fact, Roz had been sick for some time, most of the time that Alysha had known her. Crazy, flamboyant Roz was very slowly slipping away. Alzheimer's disease was taking away Roz's ability to function like a regular person, bit by little bit.

Its a difficult thing to explain to an adult what having Alzheimer's means. It is not an illness that shows its wounds in a way that grown people can cope with. This is doubly so for a child. When Alysha began to learn that Aunt Roz wouldn't remember things the same way anymore, she didn't shy away. Now, if Roz needed help finding her way to and from the bathroom,  Alysha was her escort. If Roz asked the same question three times in ten minutes, Alysha answered with a smile. If Roz let the wrong word slip out of her mouth, her first apology was to Alysha. Both of them were trying to make the best of a bad situation, and neither had the language to explain themselves, only hug and smiles.

Alysha and Roz's Story continues after the break....