Editorial: A DJ takes the fight to Alzheimer’s disease
Oct 22, 2013 | 654 views | 0 0 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When it comes to fundraising initiatives for a civic cause — especially those whose defined mission relies on medical research — it’s not always about the total dollars collected.

Sometimes it’s about making people aware.

Sometimes it’s about fighting back against the bizarre wrongs of life.

Sometimes it’s about drawing a line in the sand of pain whose depth deepens from family to family, from crisis to crisis and from person to person.

Sometimes it’s about taking a stand by declaring — and here we quote from the Hollywood classic, “Network” — “... I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”

Sometimes it’s about rebounding from personal loss, about regaining a sense of purpose and about restoring a path of direction.

Sometimes it’s about converting the hurt of tragedy into a promise of repurposed vision.

And, sometimes it’s just about doing the right thing and feeling good about the commitment in doing it.

One such Cleveland resident who has opted for a positive course in the wake of tragedy is a man who is no stranger to the tears of personal loss — both in his home and professional lives. He is Mark Grissom, owner of Grissom Funeral Home.

As a licensed funeral director, Grissom has aided untold numbers of area families through long periods of bereavement; in his own life, he has grieved as well, and most recently with the Dec. 14, 2010, death of his mother, Patty Ann Grissom.

His mom died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, a merciless killer against which she fought bravely for years until she could fight no longer. As any would do, Grissom and his father — retired Church of God pastor Tom Grissom — clung to one another in this tragic face of adversity. They grieved. They felt the sting of unbridled tears. They asked “why?” in a world of unknowns. And reluctantly, they accepted death, but did so with a reaffirmation to life.

The popular funeral director, who serves in a part-time role as morning talk show host on Thursdays and Fridays for WOOP-FM, takes a stand for life this week.

Beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday, Grissom will host a live, 26-hour radio marathon to raise funds to support the Alzheimer’s Association. He does so in honor of his beloved mother.

The nonstop fundraiser will conclude at 8 a.m. Friday, but not before the part-time DJ — and an array of special guests, including Chattanooga Alzheimer’s Association Director Cindy Lowery — speak to the need for extensive research and the growing expense of such medical studies.

But theirs will not be a mission tied just to the tally of pledges received. Their focus, too, will spotlight community awareness. They will seek to answer the unasked questions of area listeners — the what’s, why’s and how come’s of Alzheimers. They won’t have the answers to a cure, but they’ll open their hearts to a hope for a medical breakthrough ... and they’ll not suggest “if” it comes, but “when.”

Twenty-six hours of guests will include individuals, business leaders, sponsors, politicians and even a musician. Area restaurants are keeping the players fed and donors will be invited to make their pledges. One-hour sponsorships also are being offered. Every penny raised will go to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Supporters of the ongoing fight against Alzheimer’s disease may make donations or purchase sponsorships by calling WOOP at 423-614-6553 or Grissom Funeral Home at 423-476-8575. Listeners are invited to drop by the radio station in the Village Green any time throughout the marathon.

In memory of the woman who gave him life, Grissom told our newspaper’s Managing Editor David Davis in a front-page news article published in the Oct. 16 edition, “Since her death, the Alzheimer’s Association is really special to me, and I want to do whatever I can do to [help] find a cure.”

In a day when genuine humanitarian cause is just and its need is great, it is from the heart that first steps must be taken.

Sometimes the pioneer is a civic advocate. Sometimes it is a group. Sometimes it is a government leader. And sometimes ... it is a part-time DJ. But regardless of who carries the torch, those who reach the most will be those who reach within.

We wish the coming marathon well. We applaud the convictions of those who have given it birth.