On Thursday and Friday, after about five weeks of planning, Grissom went on the air at WOOP-FM radio, with the blessing of many to raise money to support the Alzheimer’s Association efforts in research.
With a goal of $15,000, Bradley Countians, Clevelanders and even supporters from other communities called in their pledges or brought cash and checks in support, totaling $15,625, according to Cindy Lowery, vice president of operations for Alzheimer’s Association of Southeast Tennessee.
“Mark called and said he had an idea,” Lowery explained. “He wanted to organize a radiothon to honor his mother and raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. Honestly, Mark planned it all.”
Lisa Geren, Debbie Williams, Allan Jones and many others worked in support of the plan at the WOOP station at the Village Green from 6 a.m. Thursday until 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Grissom, a funeral home director and owner of Grissom Funeral Home, went 26.5 hours, along with Lowery, Williams, Christy Griffith and the help of others to raise awareness and money.
Grissom works part-time hosting the “Mark in the Morning” talk show on the local radio station.
Grissom said he got the idea after watching U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz who went 21 hours during a filibuster session.
“If Ted Cruz can do it, I can talk for 26 hours for something dear to my heart,” Grissom said.
Grissom and crew began making arrangements - procuring giveaways and other elements that would be involved in the radiothon.
At hour zero (6 a.m.), Grissom went on the air.
Twelve hours later, more than $10,000 had been raised.
Studio guests, call-ins, sponsors and musical entertainment were all incorporated into the radiothon.
Special guests such as government officials, Alzheimer’s private caregivers and professionals, clergy and support services were present during portions of the radiothon.
Callers shared their stories of the disease which robs millions of people of their memory, and eventually their lives, each year.
According to statistics provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, a diagnosis at some level of the primary dementia is made every 68 seconds.
Stacy Hill, executive director of the Lantern in Collegedale was one of many guests. The Lantern is a memory care residence for dementia and Alzheimer’s victims.
Hill was executive director at Signature Healthcare during the time of Patty Ann Grissom’s bout with Alzheimer’s.
Cleveland Daily Banner Managing Editor David Davis interviewed Grissom prior to the radiothon for an article published on front page.
Grissom explained how the care of his mother took a toll on his father, Tom Grissom.
“Every day, everything with her was confusing,” he said. “She couldn’t remember what she had for breakfast that morning, but she could tell you who her doctor was that delivered her 76 years ago,” Grissom said.
Grissom was estatic when he learned Hill would be present at the fundraising radiothon.
Hill explained the progression of the disease which consumed his father’s life as Patty Ann’s memory was fading away.
Lowery said in all, approximately 50 guests came into the WOOP-FM studio to share resources and stories.
“At the end of the radiothon, it became a very emotional moment,” Lowery said.
She stressed, “We want to thank all who provided information about resources and help, told their stories, the guests who stopped by in support and made donations of $3 up to $2,000 at times, those who brought food, the sponsors … just so many people who supported Mark and his idea.”