Anthony Brookhart would do almost anything to see that “Irish twinkle” come back into his grandmother’s eyes.
While she was alive, Helen Schramm loved music and lived by the motto “put a smile on your face and a song in your heart.” It meant find the joy in life through all situations.
When Ms. Schramm started showing signs that something was wrong, Brookhart, of Wapakoneta, said it took the family 10 years of wondering about her condition before they received the diagnosis – Lewy Body Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. That was 2013. She died in December, 2016.
Since then he has been a strong advocate for Alzheimer’s issues and has raised money for research and care and support. On June 21, The Longest Day®, Brookhart held a Longest Day Festival in Wapakoneta with music, food trucks and a Longest Table event, where 85 guests dined on one connected table down the middle of Auglaize Street. He decided to plan a festival, “because of how important music was in taking care of my grandmother,” Brookhart said. “I saw such amazing feedback (when music was played for my grandmother) I wanted to see a highlight of music,” he said.
“It’s surreal to see your family become one of the statistics you hear about,’’ he said. Nationwide, one in three seniors die with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.
Since his grandmother’s death, Brookhart has used his voice to raise money, awareness, advocacy and support for those confronting all forms of dementia and their caregivers. He and his family have started a local music and memory advocacy group and he has written and produced a song to help spread the motto “put a smile on your face and a song in your heart.”