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A dream fulfilled

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 12:54 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -The CDC estimates that nearly six million Americans may be living with Alzheimer’s disease. A group hit particularly hard by the increased social isolation experienced during the last year. But this weekend, an impromptu motorcycle rally served to reunite family and stir up positive memories.

“There’s something about doing an experience. Especially for someone with memory loss,” according to Paula Gibson of Azura Memory Care in Eau Claire.

“Conversation is hard, so if you can create an experience, whether it’s to go shopping or go on a motorcycle ride or just sit in the sun, that helps the person with memory loss but it also helps the family connect through an experience.” On Sunday, Gibson helped organize a motorcycle ride for one of Azura’s patients, Barb Strubel.

“Barb suffers from memory loss and it’s continued to progress, but the big thing with her is that she’s always ready to party and smile if you engage her.” Engaging in those memorable activities is the core of Azura’s Mosaic Dream Program in which residents get to live out their ‘best day.’”

Barb’s son Jeff says that she’s always had a knack for adventure. “It was symphonies, motorcycles and camping. She did it all.”

The ride began at Azura’s new home on Bullis Farm Road in Eau Claire where former Azura caretaker April Johnsted arrived with motorcycle and sidecar, ready to escort Barb along the seven-mile route. The duo was joined by dozens of cyclists, including several from the local chapter of Faith Riders.

“The reason that we do this is that there’s a scripture that says the reason why we love is that God first loved us.” says Eric Musgrave.

“These troubling times have been bad, it’s been a rough year and to be able to be a part of something like this is a gift,” added fellow Faith Rider Marty La Rue.

“She was ecstatic. Every time I was able to turn my head, there was a grin from ear to ear,” says Johnsted. “My heart is full, I don’t think it could get any fuller. Just to be able to do for others, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? It’s not about us, it’s about everybody else.”

And while the ride was a welcomed change of pace, more rewarding was the opportunity to see her sons and grandchildren again.

“Part of the thing for me and part of the emotional thing for me is I haven’t seen her a lot over the past year and a half,” says Jeff. “To see her today and see her doing something that she loves is huge.”

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