The idea came from the love of a mother and the idea that time is better spent on constructive purposes.
Mark Grissom, owner of Grissom-Serenity Funeral Home, will host his second annual “WOOPathon” in support of the Alzheimer’s Association.
The event will be broadcast live on WOOP-FM 99.9 and the station’s website, woopfm.com beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 11, and will run through 8 a.m. Friday.
Grissom said the broadcast will go 30 minutes longer than last year.
“We want to break the record we set last year in both hours and donations,” he said.
Last year’s efforts brought in $15,625 and lots of awareness about the disease which claimed Grissom’s mother, Patty Ann Grissom, and has caused pain and grief to many others.
This year, Grissom said the idea is to kick things up a notch with even more fun and surprises surrounding the serious matter.
“My mom died of Alzheimer’s Dec. 10, 2013. She was diagnosed about five years previous to that,” Grissom said. “Six months before she passed away we had to put her in a full-time assisted care nursing home. Basically, she went down from there.”
Grissom said he had no real knowledge of the disease until it came into his family.
“It’s a horrible, horrible disease,” he said, and pointed out his mother’s began with small strokes.
“She would forget things and we thought at first it was just old age,” he said. “She would ask you the same questions in a short amount of time. Then, she had these strokes and every time she did, the effects were multiplied.”
It was June 2010 after a major episode and the doctors told the Grissoms that Patty Ann’s care was too much for them and professional assistance would be necessary.
“I give a lot of credit to anybody in the nursing homes and the caregivers for Alzheimer’s,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough and my hat’s off to them for the labor of love they do each day.”
After his mother’s passing, he saw Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas filibustering on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
“He went 24 hours straight and when I watched that I thought if he can stay up that long for some goofy thing he’s doing in Washington, D.C., I would love to do something like that for a great cause,” Grissom said. “We had a lot of fun giving it a try and it seemed to work.”
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. It is a progressive disease in which dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment.
Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer 's live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others, but survival can range from four to 20 years, depending on age and other health conditions.
Grissom will be aided once again by the Chattanooga Alzheimer’s Association senior vice president Cindy Lowery who will keep the broadcast filled with educational information about the disease and the newest possibilities on the horizon.
Grissom also said this year’s event will be dedicated to Don Kaylor, the father of Banner staff Writer Greg Kaylor, who passed away late last year from the disease.
Another Banner staff writer, Brian Graves, will be co-hosting with Grissom throughout the evening.
Graves’ grandmother, Mary Graves, succumbed to the disease in 2001, after suffering for more than three years.
Grissom also announced there will be a very special addition to the broadcast this year.
“We are going to have the first and largest ‘Red Back Hymnal Flash Mob,’” he said. “At 6 p.m Thursday, we want as many as can to show up at the Village Green with their hymnals — or without them. We’d even welcome a few guitars. And, we’re going to have a very large gospel singing.”
Grissom added a bucket would be passed around to get donations.
That singing will be followed at 8 p.m. with a live performance by the Collins Brothers Band.
Because of the special date — Sept. 11 — the broadcast will also honor local emergency responders and the work they do for the community.
“As they did last year, Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and his wife will join us for the last hour as we count down to what we hope is at least one dollar more than last year,” he said.
Grissom also said the Alzheimer’s Association is making available a phone line through which credit card donations can be made — a luxury that was not available last year.
The search is now on for the broadcast’s hourly sponsors as well as whatever businesses and individuals or groups want to join the cause.
“This is going to be something else,” Grissom said. “It’s going to be fun and it’s going to do good stuff.”
He said anyone wanting to offer donations or help in advance can call Grissom-Serenity Funeral Home at 423-476-8575.