Friday, March 30, 2012
Love and loss inspire Alzheimer's fundraiser
Courtesy of Annette Carter
Jim and Annette Carter were together for 27 years until he died from complications related to Alzheimer's disease last year.
The Jim Carter Birthday Bash is more than a celebration of the late Jim Carter's life. It is a fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association and a testament of Annette Carter's love for her husband.
Jim died January 7, 2011 at his home in Blue Ridge. People around Moneta and Stewartsville will remember him as the owner of Carter Storage Center on Virginia 24.
"He was a very smart man," said Annette. "I am honored to have been his wife. It was a Cinderella love story. I'd go back and do it again from day one in a heartbeat."
The unlikely couple shared 27 years together, 12 of those as husband and wife. There was a 31-year age difference between the two; still, their love conquered every obstacle they faced.
"You can't sweat the small stuff," said Annette. "You learn to work it out and go on in life. We had obstacles in our life, of course, but we worked it out and made it."
The two met in 1983 when Annette was a waitress at the restaurant just a few doors down from the Carter Storage offices in Stewartsville. Jim came in every day for breakfast.
"He ordered a sausage biscuit and coffee every morning," recalled Annette. "I'd serve it to him open-face with a smiley face made out of mustard."
The couple started dating one Saturday afternoon after Annette shared some cookies she had just bought from a local bakery.
"Twelve years later I came home and he had made me a candlelight dinner, gave me a card and a Ziploc bag of cookies and he said, 'Because of these cookies, we are together,'" Annette said, recalling a celebration of the anniversary of their first date.
It is those kind of memories that keep Annette going, ironic because it is memory that Alzheimer's steals. Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia that gradually worsens over time, affecting memory, thinking and behavior. Jim was diagnosed with vascular dementia in late 2008. According to the Alzheimer's Association website, it is the second most common type of dementia and is cause by stroke or some sort of brain trauma.
Jim lived two years and four months before a viral infection, a complication of the disease, ended his life, Annette said. Jim came to work every day with her. She said the month before he died the effects of the dementia became more noticeable. He could no longer tie his shoes, for example. She was grateful, though, that he remembered her right up until the end.
"I am what I am today because he loved me," said Annette. "No matter how badly he felt, he always had a smile for me. I miss that so much."
Since Jim's death, Annette has received a lot of emotional support from the Alzheimer's Association Central and Western Virginia Chapter. She is channeling her grief into educating everyone she meets about Alzheimer's disease through her role as an Alzheimer's Association ambassador.
Annette is on a mission. She is raising money for Alzheimer's research. Her goal is to raise $4,000 by selling 200 tickets to the June 9 Jim Carter Birthday Bash for Alzheimer's. Tickets are $20. The bash is from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Vinton War Memorial.
The event will include food, music and dancing. There also will be door prizes, raffles and a silent auction, with all proceeds going to the Alzheimer's Association.
To make sure all the money goes to the charity, Annette is working hard to get business sponsors and contributions for the raffles, door prizes and silent auction. She also is organizing fundraisers to get the money to pay the more than $5,000 it costs to put on the celebration.
On April 7 from around 9a.m. to 1p.m., she will be holding a bake sale at the Vinton Kroger. On April 14 and May 19, there will be yard sales in the parking lot of Carter Village Square on Virginia 24 in Stewartsville.
And On May 5, there will be a pancake breakfast at the Applebee's at Valley View Mall. Tickets for the breakfast are $8, with half going to Annette's fundraising efforts. The breakfast tickets are being sold at Carter Storage and Shear Creations. Both businesses are located in Carter Village Square in Stewartsville on Virginia 24.
The money Annette raises through these fundraisers will be used to rent the Vinton War Memorial and to pay for the music and caterer.
"Maybe it's silly, but I look at the fundraiser we're doing on June 9 this way - maybe the dollar amount we are raising will be the dollar they need to find a cure," said Annette. "I don't want anyone else to have to go through this."