2018 Peoples Choice Honorees
- Published on Wednesday, 07 September 2016 01:31
- Written by SCHA Administrator
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Volunteer Hero - People's Choice
David was blindsided by his diagnosis over 5 years ago and was not given much information about the disease, treatment, or symptoms. He retreated home depressed until he was inspired to OWN IT! He used his humor to motivate himself to do hours and hours of self-research. He contacted hundreds of medical universities, neurologists, and clinics to compose his now famous list of Parkinson's symptoms which has hundreds of common symptoms on it. He shares this, along with other educational Parkinson's events, on a State wide Email newsletter that connects thousands of people with the disease to resources and support groups. The weekly newsletter consists of the mentioned symptom list, which allows patients to check off any of the experienced symptoms to expedite doctor appointments. Along with the symptom list includes an EVENTS list which shows any upcoming educational, informational, or research updates held in the community. Lastly, the newsletter holds a list of all of the Parkinson's support groups held in Southern California allowing people to chose which one to attend if any. Within all of this, David spends his time visiting these support groups and hosting other seminars to teach people the course, Parkinson's 101, after he realized there was no course in all of Orange County. David volunteers hundreds of hours a month with a passion to help individuals of Parkinson's and works hard to ensure they avoid the stranded, depressed feelings he experienced.
Veteran Hero - People's Choice
As a WWII veteran who proudly served our country, Bill is a member of the Association of Naval Aviators, where he has made a presentation, and he also had a long history of volunteering as a Docent at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, and at Lyon Air Museum, which houses the largest private collection of aircraft, cars and WWII memorabilia. In this setting, he serves as a docent and has led hundreds of tours, which he personalizes by sharing his own experiences in WWII. For the past several years, Alzheimer's Orange County has brought groups of people with memory loss (many of whom are vets) to the museum for tours given by Bill which are especially tailored to their needs. These particular tours have sparked many memories and produced pride and self esteem in the Alzheimer's participants who have also served our county, which has been so touching to observe. Even though his wife passed four and a half years ago, Bill is still an active participant in support groups, where he continually brings updated information from his participation in Webinar and other internet activities. He is in touch with members of the support groups by internet, phone, and sometimes a lunch meeting. Bill served on a special panel at Alzheimer’s of Orange County, with two medical doctors to address the question, “What do I wish I knew then, that I know now, about Lewy Body Dementia, as a caregiver caring for my wife?” Bill is an active member of the Freedom Committee of Orange County, FCOC. Our main reason for existence is to have veterans go the Middle School and High School classes to tell of our personal experiences in WW II, Korea, or Vietnam, as Living History. He also assisted our last Pearl Harbor Survivor, Howard Bender, in his presentation to the FCOC last December. It is this special devotion that Bill has toward seniors and caregiving families that has inspired me to nominate him for this special award.
Family Member Hero - People's Choice
Dick and Joan got married March 21, 1959, after knowing each other for just 10 days. She was 19 and he was 21. They drove from Napa Valley to Nevada to get married. They arrived at a chapel at 6 AM. Dick only had $2 in his pocket and the cost of a wedding was $6. Dick offered his watch in exchange. After refusing six times, the seventh time was a charm and the man at the chapel accepted his watch and said, "Okay, Let's get married now!". They have remained in love ever since. This March Dick and Joan celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary.
In 1962, Dick and Joan packed up their belongings and moved to Southern CA. They brought their belief in themselves, love for each other and faith that hard work and integrity would provide opportunities.
Together they built their family-owned business in Fullerton and over the years were loving parents to their three sons. They did everything together and were also very involved in the community as well as in the lives of their children and grandchildren.
When Joan was 50, Dick helped her to achieve a "bucket list" dream of earning her pilot's license and bought her a plane. He knew she loved a special brand of chocolate from Paris and he decided to surprise Joan with a Concorde flight to Paris for dinner and chocolates for her 50th birthday.
After Joan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Dick's focus was to ensure his "Joanie" knew she was loved every day. He cared for her personally for several years, and when it became clear to him he could no longer provide all the care she needed by himself, he made sure she had the best care possible outside the home. His company organized a team for Alzheimer's walks in Joan's honor to raise funds for a future cure. Today, Joan is in a wheelchair, is unable to communicate. Dick still continues to visit with her twice a day and holds her hand and speaks lovingly to her. In his eyes she is still the same beautiful woman he married. We may not know how much of his conversation she understands, but she still knows she is treasured and occasionally a tear will roll down her cheek or she may offer a slight smile. He has been an inspiration to the owners and staff of the care home he chose for Joan three years ago as well as other families whose loved ones reside in the home. He treats them with the same kindness and courtesy.
Dick Atnip would probably say he is only doing what is right and natural because his love for Joan has no boundaries, but, in reality very few of the residents with Alzheimer's in care homes receive the level of care, love and attention that he provides for Joan. His selfless devotion is an inspiration to all who know him and is without a doubt the stuff true heroes are made of.