When it comes to storytelling, I’m confident that diversity is essential for less boredom at the keyboard, or at least that’s the way it is for me.
Most of my written words are derived from my journey in developing stories about current people and places visited, and the occasional travels in history. However, now and then, things take a different turn.
An special episode titled “Remembering No More a Story of Change” was released in November 2015 and has received lots of attention.
The topic of Alzheimer’s disease is not what most of our viewers would expect to see on an episode of “Life In the Carolinas,” however, when I learned about the organization CART (Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust), which is based in the Carolinas, I become intrigued with the idea of producing a segment.
The organization has raised millions of dollars from Rotary clubs by collecting change during weekly meetings, and the deeper I went in research, it became apparent the people involved with this effort were seriously committed. Then I thought, if we could bring together all the right elements, we might be able to produce a special rather than a short segment.
I felt if we could find the right Alzheimer’s family willing to share its life journey, combined with the passion of the CART founding story and world-class researchers to talk about the road to a cure, we might have enough compelling content to create a special that would captivate our viewers.
The process officially started with the story lead from Allen Langley, a friend in Shelby, North Carolina. He introduced me to Bill Shillito, the executive director of CART. I met with Bill, and he shared with me how the organization started in Sumter.
Before long, I attended an annual CART meeting, which was in Columbia, I met with Roger Ackerman, the founding co-member of CART, and it was then that I started to get a good feel for the organization.
I was optimistic about the Columbia meeting because I had already decided on our Alzheimer’s family. I had been introduced to Carrol Howell and her mother, Vera, who has Alzheimer’s. At our first meeting, Carrol invited me to attend a performance of a choir she directs.
I was amazed. The choir members either had Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia. It was moving to see once active people who now are, for the most part, not able to talk, yet when the music started could sing and express happiness.
Carrol first started working with the choirs to be closer to her mother. Over time, she would organize senior life journeys and dedicate her life to providing services to other families in her situation. She has written books on the subject and helped countless families going through the Alzheimer’s journey.
During my visits, I noticed Vera was full of life and loved having a good time. If they would say yes, we had found our Alzheimer’s family.
I ask Carrol if she would be willing to share her family’s story with our TV audience. She wanted to ask Momma first, and Vera said yes.
During the next several months, we had numerous visits with Vera and Carrol, Rotary leaders and leading Alzheimer’s researchers. We would conduct many interviews and travel many miles. We did produce a special, and it has gone on to live far beyond its broadcast release, touching countless lives.
The group of Rotarians in Sumter who cared enough to make a difference in fighting this dreadful disease have now been joined by more than 20,000 other Rotarians.
“Remembering No More a Story of Change” is the official title of the special. However, from the many calls and notes I have received, the people have titled it simply “Vera’s Story.”
Good stories do matter.
As of this publish date, Carrol tells me Vera is doing OK. She remembers less, but Vera is Vera.
Carl White is the executive producer and host of the award winning syndicated TV show “Carl White’s Life In the Carolinas.” The weekly show is in its seventh year of syndication and can be seen in the Greenville, Spartanburg viewing market on WLOS ABC 5 a.m. Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. Sundays at WMYA My 40. Visit www.lifeinthecarolinas.com, email White at Carl@lifeinthecarolinas.com.