Fundraiser aims to find a cure for Alzheimer’s
By Renee Larr
Barb Settles Huge knows firsthand how damaging the diagnosis of a family member with Alzheimer’s can be. Her father, Jack Settles, was diagnosed in 2002.
“He noticed he was having trouble remembering how to get places. He had driven for a living. He was a salesman and had driven all over the United States. The fact that he spoke up and went to his doctor about it is really rare, especially for men. He got a really thorough evaluation and he had mild cognitive impairment. There are all these different levels of dementia and they don’t know always whether this kind of cognitive impairment will lead to Alzheimer’s or not, but for him it did,” said Settles Huge.
Her mother, Pat Settles, kept her father at home during the length of his disease. She was the primary caregiver.
“She was a just an incredible 24/7 caregiver. It was extremely draining emotionally and physically,” she said of her mother.
Settles Huge was the secondary caregiver and never took the time with her father for granted.
“I was honored to have that privilege. It was horrible but I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” she said.
Throughout the course of his illness, the family faced many challenges related to his care.
“There were a bunch of times where we weren’t sure it was going to work out. There was one time he took off in the car and couldn’t remember how to get home. He was gone almost 48 hours. He would wander away from the house. The state highway patrol found him walking on the interstate. We never knew what the next crisis was going to be,” said Settles Huge.
The family found healing from a support group provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.
“I have been involved with the Alzheimer’s Association for a long time … really since my dad was diagnosed, which was 12 years ago. I’ve done a variety of different activities with them and their organization has just supported our whole family so much. They’ve been such a good source of information and networking to find other people that understand,” said Settles Huge.
She found a passion to help others affected by the disease. Settles Huge attended an event last year called the Longest Day. She realized that her community needed a similar event so she began to network at the yoga studio she frequents.
“I’ve been doing yoga at Source for I don’t know how long and found out one of the yoga teachers there also has a family member affected. So, I went to her and said hey, why don’t we do something about this,” she said.
They created a Fishers Longest Day Event-Summer Solstice Yoga Celebration. The name is significant because to Alzheimer’s caretakers every day can feel like the longest day. Three local yoga studios came together to create a fundraiser that combines two hours of yoga and remembrance of those loved ones affected by Alzheimer’s. The event was held on Father’s Day, a coincidence that isn’t lost on Settles Huge.
“Father’s Day and his birthday are always going to be hard,” she said.
Her father died from Alzheimer’s in November 2013. Settles Huge feels it’s important to help change the perception of the disease.
“I think though that there are so many people that have these misconceptions about Alzheimer’s … it seems like recently we’re gaining some momentum where people realize there is early onset Alzheimer’s, there are lots of people affected. It’s not just for people in their 80’s. My dad was diagnosed in his early 60’s,” she said.
Settles Huge feels compelled to help with her local Alzheimer’s Association’s fundraising efforts in the future.
“I’m just really passionate about creating awareness because it’s a horrible disease and we need to find a cure. This is our time to heal a lot of people and to hopefully find a cure. I’ve seen what this local association does to help people in their day to day lives. The research and awareness are important but the day-to-day support … you can’t put a price tag on that,” said Settles Huge.
The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana chapter benefits from Settles Huge volunteer work.
“Barb is instrumental in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Not only active in fundraising, Barb also volunteers in support groups to help others affected by the disease. Her passion for the cause is personal as she lost her father to the disease last year,” said Denise Fosnaugh, associate director of relationship events and intermediate giving.
For more information or to volunteer with AA visit alz.org.
About Barb Settles Huge
Family: Dan Huge, husband, married for 22 years. Daughter, Amber Sermersheim, and dog Zeke
Favorite thing about living in Fishers: “Small town” feel, Farmers’ Market, Freedom Festival, Summer concerts- seeing friends almost anytime I am out.
Favorite restaurant in Fishers: Rock Stone.
Something most people don’t know about you: I was a band nerd in high school.
Dream vacation destination: Greek Islands.