‘Let’s ride through it’: Ride4Alzheimers sidecar tour features Don and Donni Reddington
TWISP — On Independence Day, Confluence Health nurse Donni Reddington will climb onto her Ural motorcycle with her father Don in the sidecar, and they will set off on a 10-day statewide tour to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s. The tour will end at noon on July 12 with a public gathering at Pybus Public Market and what they expect will be a huge motorcycle escort of local supporters on their last leg from Quincy to Wenatchee.
Donni stopped by my office for an interview as part of my Art of Community NCW podcast, a program dedicated to creative community building. It was a poignant and moving conversation about her work as a care giver, the impact that Alzheimer’s had on her family, and the courage of her father and family in addressing this adversity in a public, matter-of-fact manner. In collaboration with our friends at the Methow Valley News, Reddington co-authored a series of articles about living with Alzheimer’s. The Reddington Project also appeared in The Wenatchee World and lives on as a printed and digital magazine. It’s a wonderful guide for living with Alzheimer’s.
The natural tendency for families dealing with Alzheimer’s is to isolate. But Don Reddington was insistent that he wanted to face this publicly, his daughter told me. The Reddingtons have a well-earned reputation as independent, self-sufficient and motivated individuals. Ginger Reddington is a gifted artist who’s paintings are shown throughout the region. She also runs the family farm and keeps horses as well as serves as Don’s caretaker. Donni has a similar streak of creativity and self sufficiency. She’s a mountaineer, photographer, motorcycle enthusiast and built her own house in the Methow Valley.
Since his diagnosis, the family has put a high priority on keeping Don actively involved in activities and the community. An avid mountain bike rider, they still go riding regularly, even though the disease is progressing and his “clouded” periods are more frequent.
The message of the Ride4Alzheimers is “letting people out there know that you can actually live and have a functioning, happy lifestyle with Alzheimer’s,” she said. “It’s going to be a ride, but you can make the most of it instead of isolating yourself.” As for Alzheimer’s, Donni says the following: “It has changed our family in so many ways…. The main thing is accepting it and talking about it. Finding your support people. It takes a lot of patience.”
“It hasn’t been any easy road” Reddington said,” but you get out there and live as much as you can.”
Donni loves to dream up new adventures, and given her enthusiasm for motorcycling, a sidecar tour seemed like a perfect opportunity to spread Don’s message. That message is to bring individuals with Alzheimer’s out of isolation and into the community. We can all interact and engage with people and do our best to include them. We can learn to engage and include these individuals, Donni told me.
She purchased the sidecar, nicknamed Olga, and she and Don have been out on some test runs. At one point they encountered a rainstorm and she recalled asking Don whether he wanted to seek cover or ride through it. “Let’s ride through it,” she recalled him saying. It’s that indomitable spirit that animates the Ride4Alzheimers and the life of the Reddingtons as they deal with Don’s condition.
At each stop along the way of their sidecar tour — Bellingham, Seattle, Olympia, Yakima, Spokane and Wenatchee — host organizations are planning a celebration to bring families of those with Alzheimer’s and friends out for a celebration. To pay for the costs of the trip, Donni set up a Go Fund Me website. They still are a few thousand dollars short, so perhaps we can rally and help with that. Check out gofundme.com/ride4alzheimers.
Also, you can access their web site ride4alzheimers.net. If you are a motorcycle rider and want to escort the Reddingtons on part of their journey, check out the web site for rally times. Another great resource is an effort at the University of Washington to encourage families to keep Alzheimer’s patients active, called Momentia at momentiaseattle.org. To learn about Don’s journey through the early stages of Alzheimer’s, Google “living with Alzheimer’s” to access the online version of the publication by the Methow Valley News.
This is truly an amazing story of facing adversity with grace and courage. If you want deeper insights, please check out my podcast interview with Donni Reddington on the Art of Community NCW web site (artofcommunityncw.com).
Herea are some links: