WESTMINSTER, Md. — When Edmund O'Meally describes his mom Barbara, he uses words like "vibrant" and "active."
"She would engage in lengthy discussions on anything you could imagine," he said.
He says she loved to cook and took care of beautiful gardens. She taught him how to ski when he was a boy.
Then, about 10 years ago, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. O'Meally says his mom has lost the ability to do most of the things she once loved.
"Watching somebody go from what they were, to almost a shell of who they used to be, is very difficult," said Maggie O'Meally, Barbara's granddaughter.
Barbara is being cared for at Brightview's Wellspring Village in Carroll County. Dawn O'Meally says it's been very challenging to watch her mother-in-law lose the vibrancy she had before the Alzheimer's diagnosis.
"It's not just the person who is diagnosed; it's the whole family," she said. "The cost of it emotionally and financially, it's just devastating."
Barbara is the reason why the O'Meallys are organizing a fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association Greater Maryland chapter called the "Forget Me Not" gala. It's on May 19, the same day their daughter Maggie was suppose to get married.
"So we decided to postpone, and we’re getting married in December now, so its still on, but we just needed to take some time for ourselves," she said.
Her family is using her wedding venue, the Antrim 1844 in Taneytown, to host the gala. It will be both an educational experience and a space for other families to share their stories of how Alzheimer's has changed their lives.
"There is an awareness of how big this really is and so many people keep it to themselves until they get the opportunity to share," said Ed O'Meally. "And we want to open that up a little bit here in Carroll County and bring people together for this common cause."
The Forget Me Not gala will have food, live music, a silent auction and keynote speakers Dr. Cynthia Fields, a neuropsychiatrist, and Dr. Steven Lockard, the superintendent of Carroll County schools. WMAR-2 News Jamie Costello will be the emcee. Proceeds will benefit the Alzheimer's Association Greater Maryland chapter.
The deadline to purchase tickets is May 5. To buy a ticket, click here.