Alzheimer’s disease impacts Tennessee families in every county from West to East, and this month everyone in Knox County is invited to participate in the inaugural statewide “Purple Out Day” benefitting Alzheimer’s Tennessee, a not-for-profit organization.
The “Purple Out Day” on Friday, Sept. 18 is led by Court Clerks across the state, including Knox County Court Clerks Mike Hammond and Kathy Shanks.
“Everyone has been touched by Alzheimer’s or dementia. I asked the 80 people in our office if they know or love someone who has been impacted by this brain disease, and sadly, all of them do,” said Knox County’s Criminal Court Clerk Mike Hammond. “We will raise money that will go to Alzheimer’s Tennessee for the cause. Also we want to create awareness and let people know what Alzheimer’s Tennessee does. What they do in our community is outstanding.”
On Monday, August 31, Knox County Mayor Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero joined Hammond and Shanks at the Knoxville City County building to launch the Purple Out campaign in Knox County. The Knoxville City County building is already decorated in purple bows, and wristbands and other items are ready to share with donors who want to show their support.
Everyone in Knox County is encouraged to wear purple on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015 for the state’s first “Purple Out Day”, and Hammond invited everyone who visits the Knox County Courts to take part in his office’s celebration. “As you walk down on the mezzanine level you’re going to see a lot of purple. Anyone who comes into this building, and hundreds come in every day, there’s no question that they’re going to be seeing purple and they’re going to be seeing Alzheimer’s Tennessee. They’re going to know something is going on.”
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero each made proclamations establishing “Purple Out Day” in the community.
“I plan to wear purple on Friday, September 18th,” said Knoxville Mayor Rogero. “I invite everyone in the city to do so as well. We are naming this September 18th as ‘Purple Out Day’ for the city.”
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett shared his experience with members of his family who have had Alzheimer’s disease. “I remember Aunt Jane… she patted me on the cheek and said, ‘I don’t remember who you are but I think you’re a good boy.’ I thought that was something to live up to.” Burchett continued. “It hits everybody. We really appreciate the clerks bringing this to our attention and the good work they’re doing across the state. It’s not only just wearing purple. We’ve got to donate money and we’ve got to find a cure for this thing.”
Beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 1, anyone who would like to honor or memorialize a loved one touched by Alzheimer’s or dementia may bring a photo of that individual to the Court Clerk counters in the mezzanine level the Knoxville City County Building to be included on the Alzheimer’s Tennessee Tribute Wall. The photos added to the wall and information shared about those individuals will become part of a display recognizing the Faces of Alzheimer’s across the state.
“The efforts from the Purple Out Initiative will help to provide education and services to those living with dementia in Tennessee,” Janice Wade-Whitehead Executive Director of Alzheimer’s Tennessee shared. “County by county from East to West, we will spread the word that that no one needs to walk the Alzheimer’s journey alone. Just as importantly, by wearing purple on Purple Out Day you will send a message of hope to the Alzheimer’s community that you care, your community cares, and you are helping to fight this disease.”
That is the spirit that inspired Blount County Court Clerk Tom Hatcher to become the state’s first champion for Purple Out Day and bring the Tennessee Court Clerks Association on board with the project.
“We decided to ‘Go Purple,’ have a Purple Out Day from Memphis to Mountain City. There are 205 Clerks in the State of Tennessee and over 1,500 Deputy Clerks. We’ve asked each Clerk to donate $50 and each Deputy to donate $10. That’s going to be over $25,000 we raise in one day, which I think is an awesome, awesome task,” Hatcher says. “It’s not just for the Clerks’ Association. We want our communities across the state to be involved. We’re asking everyone in Tennessee to wear purple on September 18th. We’re asking everyone to get involved with donations, too and help us raise money so we can help more people in the State of Tennessee.”
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia impact at least 110,000 Tennesseans. Alzheimer’s Tennessee is a Tennessee-based 501c3 not-for-profit organization that provides support services, promotes brain health through education, and champions research for better prevention and treatment strategies. Court clerks had the opportunity to learn more about the disease at their annual conferences this year. Information about Alzheimer’s and related dementias will be available to the public through court clerk offices and at www.alzTennessee.org or by calling toll-free statewide 888.326.9888.