Alzheimer’s changed this Birmingham 28-year-old’s life— find out how

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Alzheimer's
Bethany planting her flower in honor of her mother. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

There’s a common misconception that Alzheimer’s is a disease that only affects people in their old age; however, this illness can appear as early as your thirties. This is a very real threat to millions worldwide, including many in the Birmingham community. Read on to hear about a local resident whose life was forever changed by this disease and how the Alzheimer’s Association is making a difference.

Meet Bethany Chapman

Alzheimer's
Bethany just participated in her first Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Birmingham. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Bethany Chapman is a bright and bubbly 28-year-old woman with her whole life ahead of her. You would probably never guess that a young woman like her had already lost her mother. You also wouldn’t think that she had to go through the painful process of watching the strong lady that raised her forget everything about who she was.

“Alzheimer’s is unique in that you really start mourning the loss of your loved one before they pass away, and you really do lose them before you lose their body.”

Bethany Chapman, Birmingham

This is the reality of early-onset Alzheimer’s. Bethany was only 15 when her mom was diagnosed with the disease. She battled the disease for fifteen years before passing away on March 7, 2019.

Bethany’s grandmother also died from Alzheimer’s making this not only a tragic loss but a fear for her own future. This is a sickness with a strong genetic component that notoriously attacks families.

“The Alzheimer’s Association has given me a strong sense of hope because they are on the forefront of research, and it gives me faith that one day when I have children of my own they won’t have to watch me go through this disease.”

Bethany Chapman, Birmingham

How the Alzheimer’s Association helped

Alzheimer's
Bethany and other staff at the 2021 Walk. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Since this tragedy struck the Chapman family while Bethany and her brother were still in high school, they didn’t have a lot of friends who could really understand them.

“One of the wonderful things about the Alzheimer’s Association is the sense of community and hope it gave me and my brother. They were a great resource for us to get plugged into a community of people who really understood the disease and had shared experiences.”

Bethany Chapman, Birmingham

Bethany found so many friends through the Alzheimer’s Association’s support groups and events. She has participated in walks all over the country from Memphis to Manhattan.

Throughout this process, Bethany has become extremely involved in the Alzheimer’s Association, as she saw first-hand the difference they made in the lives of others. She’s been fundraising as team captain since 2014, and this year she planned and participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Birmingham.

Remembering Bethany’s Mom—Karlyn Chapman

The Walk
Raising flowers a the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Event to honor who they walk for. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Karlyn Chapman was an active community member and an amazing mother. She was involved in the Junior League, president of the cheer booster club and an incredible nurse for over twenty years.

Her love for her family and others was evident through everything she did, and the support she received during this journey.

“In 2014, all of my mom’s friends came out and did the walk with us. It was cool to see how many friends she actually had, and I was shocked about how many people showed up to rally around her.”

Bethany Chapman, Birmingham

Karlyn was passionate about caring for people, including caring for her own mother when she fell ill from Alzheimer’s. While she has passed, her legacy of caring and loving others lives on through Bethany and her son, Preston.

How you can make an impact

Alzheimer's
Everyone is ready to end Alzheimer’s once and for all. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

You can make a difference in the lives of families like the Chapmans by donating to The Alzheimer’s Association. All of the funds go directly into research for a cure as well as support for the families and current people who are suffering from this disease.

You can also donate directly to Bethany’s fundraising page.

Learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association and how you can help by visiting their website, Facebook and Instagram!

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Miranda Shaffer
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