CALDWELL, NJ — Caldwell resident Dave Whetton, an advocate for raising awareness for patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and their families, was invited by Mayor John Kelley to present during the recent virtual town council meeting held on October 20. Whetton thanked the council for providing a platform and opportunity to bring awareness to the community.

Whetton and his family’s journey as advocates began after his father-in-law Lorenzo Malanga was diagnosed with the disease and battled the debilitating condition for seven years.  Whetton remarked that the family who become the caregivers many times become involved in a situation that is “upsetting and rife with turmoil and it is a horrendous situation dealing with a family member affected.”  

He noted that many times people ask the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s and clarified that dementia is seen as the “umbrella” while Alzheimer’s is a condition under the umbrella similar to other forms of dementia such as vascular or Lewy body dementia.  He stressed that “at this time there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  There are a few medications than can provide partial, temporary relief in the disease’s early stages, but they are ineffective against cognitive decline and physical deterioration.”

Sign Up for West Essex Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

The family’s advocacy takes many forms including fundraising.  Some of their recent fundraising initiatives have included a virtual tricky tray this past summer which raised $2,500, bagging groceries for donations at local supermarkets, gift wrapping at malls during the holiday season, a music trivia night held at Rockin’ Joes that raised $1,000 and most recently their participation in an Alzheimer’s Awareness Walk that raised $230,000.

In addition to raising funds, Whetton and his family have been advocating with legislatures. Whetton is the ambassador for Alzheimer’s through Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill’s office. “The sense of reward when laws are passed, is amazing,” Whetton said. As an advocate, whenever a potential bill is in the pipeline and can benefit the Alzheimer’s association or families, they are in contact with their representatives.  

\Kelley noted that his family too is affected by Alzheimer’s. The mayor announced that the organization will be the second recipient of his recent initiative to secure donations and then match donations of his colleagues for the charity to support their initiatives and research.  During the last council meeting Kelley determined that Down Syndrome would be their first recipient of donations and ultimately raised over $1,000.  

Kelley’s wife Susan’s place of business does provide for matching donations and once donations are secured for Alzheimer’s her firm will match what is raised by the elected body. Whetton stated donations may be made to CUREALZ.org/donate and that all proceeds received go directly to research and that “every bit helps.”

Councilman Jonathan Lace did ask for confirmation when the next event will be and Whetton confirmed that there will be another virtual tricky tray held between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  

Whetton may be contacted at CaldwellFamilyAlz@gmail.com for further information on how to donate or get involved in advocacy.