Junior Sophia Dugan, a member of Sigma Kappa, remembers the confusing time when her great grandmother Gladys Brown was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
She said she felt like she was in the dark.
"I was so confused when she began to decline," Dugan said via text.
The feeling of frustration spurred a desire to learn more about the disease. She attained a minor in gerontology, the study of age, with a specialization in dementia and Alzheimer’s studies from IU. She is pursuing a major in exercise science.
Sigma Kappa is participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer's on Sept. 16 in downtown Bloomington near the square and going along the B-Line Trail. Sigma Kappa’s national group has had a partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association since 1954.
Junior Anne Marie Schaner, vice president of philanthropy for the sorority, said she hopes Sigma Kappa can branch out in its philanthropic involvement with the local community. The Sigma Kappa Foundation has provided over $3 million in grants for Alzheimer’s research. One of the ways Sigma Kappa raises money to fund research is through Sigma Sweets.
Schaner said Sigma Sweets is an annual $5 all-you-can-eat event at the Sigma Kappa chapter house that combines sweet and salty foods. They have various vendors such as the Chocolate Moose, Baked! of Bloomington and Auntie Anne’s. The event will take place at the Sigma Kappa house on Sept. 21.
In addition to various fundraisers, Sigma Kappa is also creating a volunteer program with Garden Villa, an assisted-living facility. The volunteer program is set up to help the community while also providing Sigma Kappa with the opportunity to work directly with Alzheimer’s patients.
“In the past, we’ve been volunteering with nursing homes but have never had direct experience with people suffering from the disease," Schaner said.
Through working at the nursing home as well as her personal experience with Alzheimer's, Dugan said she feels she has found her calling.
“It’s what I want to do for the rest of my life," Dugan said. "I love taking care of these people, just getting to know how they work. It’s something I love with all of my heart.”
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