A Family’s Journey
We are all familiar with the words Alzheimer’s disease. Most of us know someone suffering the consequences of this debilitating disease but aren’t aware that 1 in 8 people over age 65 have Alzheimer’s or that every 72 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s. Our family’s awareness of Alzheimer’s was probably a lot like yours. Until our father was diagnosed with the disease and now we have made it our mission to know as much as we can to find a cure, to discover early diagnosis and treatments and to support other families experiencing the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s. Here is our story.
William J. McKeown, Jr. was a devoted husband and father of six. He was a smart and successful business owner and a well-loved figure in his community. After almost 40 years of building the family business with his wife Margaret and his six children – Peggy, Phyllis, Bill, Charlie, Maureen and Joe- he began forgetting everyday details, he was driving erratically and displaying abnormal behavior. While changes occur naturally with age, the rapid increase in this behavior left our family believing that something was terribly wrong. As it turns out, it was. William was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease with no hope for a cure and the family left to wonder how to cope.
While Margaret was able to protect him through his forgetfulness and lessened ability to perform everyday tasks, she struggled with his changed personality and behavior. With the family’s support William was later placed in a nursing facility where Margaret could continue to care for him with added resources. Even so, Margaret suffered a stroke. Having recovered, she and her six children made sure that their children continue to get to know their grandfather so they could remember him, even as he was forgetting them.
After losing William to Alzheimer’s in 1991, the McKeowns have worked together to honor his memory and participate in finding a cure by hosting an annual golf outing. The William J. McKeown, Jr. Golf Classic “Fore” Alzheimer’s was born to raise awareness, and generate community support. After losing our beloved mother in 2002, the event now honors both William and Margaret.
With tremendous community support, the McKeown Foundation was formed in 2007 in an effort to expand on that support and awareness and to carry on our mission of caring, support and research in hopes of one day eliminating Alzheimer’s disease.