Andrea and Joe Bargas had a wonderful life. They built it together over 64 years of marriage on 68 acres in the Fayette County countryside. After raising and educating 8 children, they planned to spend their golden years travelling and enjoying their 16 grandchildren. Andrea was a talented gardener and an active member of her community, often reaching out to those in need through her work with the Bluebonnet Lions Club. Life was good.
Gradually, however, Andrea began to experience some changes. Their daughter Delfina remembers that her mother became increasingly forgetful. It troubled her to note that her mother’s prize-winning flowers weren’t being watered, and that her mother, usually eager to be the first to wish her children a happy birthday, was overlooking important dates. The once outgoing Andrea became withdrawn and fearful.
In time, Andrea would be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurological illness that affects over 5 million Americans, and 1 in 3 people over age 85. There is currently no way to prevent, cure, or even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, and over time Andrea’s condition advanced. Andrea started to get lost on the grounds of their farm, and her family made the difficult decision to move her to a long-term-care community.
Throughout her 4 years living away from home, her husband Joe visited 3 times a day, sharing coffee and a donut with his wife, spending the evenings together enjoying each other’s company on the porch. “Even when she couldn’t speak, she would touch my arm so I knew she cared and understood,” Joe remembers.
Shortly after Andrea passed away, Delfina and her 4 sisters got involved in the 2014 Travis County Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The event is part of a nationwide movement to eliminate Alzheimer’s through the advancement of research, and to fund local support services for caregiving families. This year, the Bargas sisters and a handful of other dedicated volunteers have started the very first Walk to End Alzheimer’s in La Grange. The event will be held in La Grange at the Fayette County Fair Grounds on September 19th.
“I’m motivated by my mother to make this fundraiser a success,” says Delfina. “She was always helping and giving to everyone, and we want to do everything we can to support research and find a cure. Until this happened to us, we had no idea how many families were affected. We want to help others, the way our mom always did.”
When it came time to choose an Honorary Chairman of the event, Joe was a natural choice. “I want to let other caregivers know that there’s something they can do. It’s hard for people who haven’t experienced it to understand, it’s such a terrible disease, but those of us who have experienced it want to do something to stop it. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is a chance to make a difference.”
The Fayette County Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held at the County Fair Grounds on September 19th. Anyone in Fayette or the surrounding counties can form a team today. By raising funds and awareness, participants are helping to eliminate Alzheimer’s, and to support families caring for a loved one like Andrea. For more information on the Walk, please visit http://act.alz.org/fayette15 or call Martha Powell at (979)263-4172 or Alzheimer’s Texas (512) 241-0420.