The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Dodgeball tournament by new student org helps raise funds for Alzheimer’s Association

GVL | Risho Wooten

The Grand Valley State University Alzheimer Awareness Club held a dodgeball tournament on Friday, March 15 as a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association, an organization that focuses on continuing research efforts and finding a cure for the disease.

Many members of the club have seen the effects Alzhiemer’s disease can have on those diagnosed and their families. The tournament connects to the organization’s wider goals of serving people and fighting against the disease through fundraising and awareness.

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that can affect memory, thinking and social behavior. An early symptom of the disease is forgetting recent conversations or events. Over time, the ability to perform everyday tasks begins to decrease. In the United States, 6.5 million people live with Alzheimer’s who are 65 years or older. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it is projected that about 13 million Americans will be living with the disease by 2050. There currently is no cure for the disease. 

President and founder of the organization Carter Bechtel said this is the club’s first year as an organization on campus.

“(The Alzheimer’s Club) has brought together a lot of students fighting for a common cause,” Bechtel said.

The dodgeball tournament was an event that reflected this united effort. Upon arrival, students checked in at a table on the sidelines filled with snacks and drinks. At one end of the table, T-shirts with the club’s logo were laid out for anyone interested in buying to support the cause. Seven different teams participated in the tournament with each team creating their own names. 

The 37 participating students each paid 10 dollars. Most of the money went to the Alzheimer’s Association. Other attendees who came to watch were encouraged to donate directly to the Alzheimer’s Association website or directly to the club. 

Bechtel created the club as he saw first-hand the impact the disease had on his great-grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. He said he wanted to make a bigger impact to help those with the disease. 

Watching her suffer from the disease and seeing the toll it took on my great-grandpa was rough and made an impact on my family and I,” Bechtel said. “Ever since then, my family and I have participated in events thrown by the Alzheimer’s Association. I wanted to do more than just volunteer here and there and I thought starting a club would allow me to do more.” 

Bechtel further plans to create volunteer opportunities for those with Alzheimer’s and their families. The club’s unofficial motto and main goal is “research, awareness and fundraising.”

Erin McLean, the head of PR and recruitment for the club, has seen the impact Alzheimer’s has had on her own family. Her great-aunt was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Over the last couple of years, Alzheimer’s has increased the amount of care her great-aunt needs, leading her great-aunt to move to a nursing home that can provide more adequate assistance.

 “It’s definitely hard to watch family members go through that and watching the impact it has on caretakers too,” McLean said. 

Additionally, McLean works with patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s and has seen the impact the disease has on other families in the community.

 “It can feel helpless watching somebody go through that and when I’m working with patients and talking to their families, it makes you feel helpless not being able to help them, so this is my way to giving back in any way that I can,” McLean said.

McLean said events like the dodgeball tournament can connect GVSU students to large issues and goals. 

“Hosting an event like this brings different groups of people (together) to help spread awareness and fundraise,” McLean said.

The members of the club felt the tournament was a fun way to bring students together for an important cause and make an impact. 

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