By Stephanie Foster, Alzheimer’s Association staff
Family is everything
Kelly Hovland, a financial advisor with Edward Jones® in Portland, loved growing up in a large family in the Midwest. When she married her wife, Teresa Schmidt, she joined an even larger family. In fact, it was Teresa’s proclivity toward family that first caught Kelly’s eye.
Locally, Kelly and Teresa are raising three children in the Pacific Northwest. They spend weekends hiking, adventuring in nature and creating family memories. One of their favorite activities includes attending family reunions where they can reconnect with many brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles. Additionally, Kelly has become an honorary part of “Sisters’ Weekends,” annual gatherings with Teresa’s siblings.
When Teresa thinks of her family, her mother, Virginia Schmidt, comes to mind as a central figure. Virginia raised eight children. Teresa recalls that Virginia’s goal was to keep the family together and connected through events and outings. When she lost her battle with Alzheimer’s in 2013, Virginia had twenty-four grandchildren and fourteen great grandchildren.
Mom’s thank-you note
Teresa’s family watched Virginia’s decline from Alzheimer’s over the course of many years. Amazingly, she remained the same caring, thoughtful mother and grandmother. Near the end, Virginia briefly returned from the hospital to the family home. When she walked through the front door, she didn’t recognize it as her own home of fifty-five years any longer.
“Mom wrote a note to the people who she thought were letting her stay at ‘their’ house,” Teresa notes. “That was mom’s kindness. Through it all, she kept her sweetness, and that’s what Kelly and I always want to remember about my mom.”
The summer solstice
Kelly found The Longest Day® for the first time in 2021, an Alzheimer’s Association signature event. She jumped at the opportunity to create a fundraiser in honor of Virginia. In June, The Longest Day participants take part in whatever activity they enjoy (knitting, baking, writing, etc.) to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association. Virginia’s love of hiking, camping trips and nature outings made the choice easy. Kelly completed a 10k trail run in Tryon Creek State Park in Lake Oswego on the summer solstice and raised over $2,000 for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. This was a perfect way to celebrate an exceptional woman.
“My whole family is so proud of Kelly,” says Teresa. “This is a great thing that she’s doing to honor our mom, because Virginia was top notch.” When Kelly hit the $1,600 fundraising milestone, Kelly became one of 35 Solstice Champions (top individual fundraisers) in Oregon and SW Washington. By giving back to the community through her trail run fundraiser, Kelly feels that she is following in Virginia’s footsteps, modeling love, patience and kindness. Teresa agrees, adding that, “one of the things my mom left was a legacy of love—unconditional love, and gift and service.”
In the weeks following The Longest Day, Kelly said:
I didn’t realize initially just how much it would mean to me to be part of The Longest Day, and to talk to our extended family about what I was doing and why I was doing it. It was very special for me to honor Virginia on the summer solstice. With Teresa and our children at the park, cheering me on as I looped around the trails, it really made me smile to think of how happy it would have made Virginia.”
Get involved with The Longest Day
The Longest Day is the day with the most light — the summer solstice. On June 20, thousands of participants from across the world come together to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through an activity of their choice. Together, they use their creativity and passion to raise funds and awareness for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. Follow Kelly and Teresa’s lead and save the date for 2022 – June 21! Visit alz.org/tld for more information or to make a donation.