Nassau Alzheimer’s walk gets a boost from a pair of twins honoring their father

Nassau Alzheimer’s walk gets a boost from a pair of twins honoring their father
Andrew Klein, Alyson Irom and their mother Carole Klein walked the 2.75 mile route in Eisenhower Park after raising over $20,000. (Photo courtesy of the Alzheimer's Association)

Twins Alyson Irom and Andrew Klein stood on a podium in Eisenhower Park Saturday morning wearing shirts with “Stan’s Fans” in curly purple lettering on the back.

Stan’s Fans are the over 200 people who donated to the twins’ campaign for Nassau County’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. And Stan? Their father, Stanley Klein, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s eight years ago.

Saturday was the first ever Alzheimer’s Association walk in Nassau County, and, at over $21,000, Stan’s Fans raised the most funds out of the over 100 participating teams.

Alyson Irom got custom-made shirts for her team, named Stan’s Fans in honor of her father Stanley Klein. (Photo courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association)

Irom, who lives in Roslyn, said that moment on the podium was her favorite of the day.

“Just the outpouring of support and love from all of our friends who had turned out and showed up in the early morning to walk with us,” she said. “It was just a very uplifting inspirational event.”

The Alzheimer’s Association holds around 600 walks every year that are normally in the fall, said the organization’s Long Island communications manager, Ann Healey.

“With a first time walk you just never know what’s going to happen,” she said. “We had a gorgeous sunny day and everything really went so smoothly.”

County Executive Laura Curran attended as well as over 1,000 people.

Knowing someone with Alzheimer’s is toughest on the caretakers who don’t get to see their loved one as the full, aware person they used to know, Irom said.

“The body is there, but the mind is gone,” she said. “Still to give that love and support – you never know [if] there will be a trigger that they do know who you are. You never know.”

Stanley Klein now lives in an assisted living facility for individuals with memory loss in New Rochelle.

“He was a successful lawyer, tennis player, basketball player, life of the party,” Irom said. “[A] great dad, grandpa, uncle, husband.”

Irom’s grandmother had Alzheimer’s as well. The twins’ mother joined them for the walk, and their sister did her local walk in Denver on the same day.

They raised the thousands of dollars by spreading the word about their team on Facebook. It all happened in about a month. They were still getting donations the day of the walk.

“We’re overwhelmed with the support,” Andrew Klein said. “A lot of people remembered my father during his prime, and had very fond memories. And even a lot of people I went to elementary or high school with who I only communicate with through Facebook, they reached out also.”

Carole Klein, Stanley’s wife, said that she has found the Alzheimer’s Association to be a wonderful support system as she found herself navigating her husband’s disease. The organization equipped her with information, and she attended seminars and support groups.

“Without the organization it would have been a totally different experience,” she said. “The more you know for yourself the better it is because nobody really knows what Alzheimer’s is until you see it before your eyes.”

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