Rockwell Rock-A-Thon raises awareness for Alzheimer’s

Published 12:07 am Friday, June 23, 2023

ROCKWELL — Kim Sheeks and Jayne Petrea are just two of many Rowan County residents who have been personally affected by Alzheimer’s. Both of their fathers died from the disease, so now as members of the Gamma Theta chapter of the Alpha Delta Kappa International Honorary Society of Women Educators they make certain to participate in the group’s annual event to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s.

“My dad had early onset Alzheimer’s. When we had him in the nursing home, he still thought he was a principal. He would go up and down the halls, saying he couldn’t get his teachers to listen to him. He would take nurse’s books off their desks and write on the walls like they were a chalkboard,” said Sheeks about her father, a former principal at Bethlehem Elementary in Alexander County.

Educators from throughout the county braved the rain to gather at the Rockwell Museum Gazebo Wednesday and decorate the gazebo in purple on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

“Alzheimer’s doesn’t ever give up, so we can’t either. We’ll still show up in the rain to raise awareness,” said Sheeks.

This year marked the third time the group has held the event. They started in 2021 and raised around $3,000 then raised around $2,000 in 2022.

The day of the event, Rockwell’s fire chief helped the group turn the gazebo purple. They decorated it with purple streamers wrapped around the gazebo pillars, set up purple signs, and put a rocking chair covered in purple cloth by the road. Granite Knitwear helped the group make the signs and the city of Rockwell helped the group advertise the event by putting it on the electronic sign near the police department building.

“We chose the rocking chairs because they resemble older citizens, who are normally the ones affected by Alzheimer’s, sitting in their rocking chairs and relaxing,” said Petrea.

The group expected a turnout of 20 former and current educators to turn out during the day, around half of the 40 total members of their group. Alzheimer’s awareness is one of the philanthropies of the larger Alpha Delta Kappa international group along with supporting St. Jude’s Children Hospital.

Those who want to help support Alzheimer’s Awareness along with the Gamma Theta chapter can donate through the Alpha Delta Kappa website at