10/13/05 — Man with ties to Goldsboro will be honorary chairman of Memory Walk

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Man with ties to Goldsboro will be honorary chairman of Memory Walk

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 13, 2005 1:47 PM

A man with Goldsboro ties will be the honorary chairman of the Neuse Region Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk Saturday.

Dr. John Hope Franklin of Durham is a historian, lifelong civil rights activist and the author of several books. He credits his connection to North Carolina to his late wife, Aurelia Whittington Franklin, who was born in Goldsboro.

The couple met at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., in the early 1930s. They were married at her home, 306 S. James St., in 1940.

Dr. and Mrs. Franklin celebrated 58 years of marriage. Together, they received many accolades, including having a library named for them at Fisk University and receiving a humanitarian award in their name that will be presented for the first time in 2006.

Mrs. Franklin had Alzheimer's for several years and spent her last days in a nursing home.

Franklin served on the board for the Alzheimer's Association for a number of years and is now an emeritus board member. He said he wants to make others aware of the disease.

"I want people not to be in denial but to face it and to get the kind of help that's out there," he said. "Not so much the ones suffering from it, but the caretakers."

It is important that caregivers seek support for themselves to get through the disease, he said.

Because he is not a medical doctor, Franklin said he cannot affect a cure for the disease or ease the patient's suffering. He chooses to work in other ways.

"I'm not in a position to provide anything but (compassion) for the person who's affected," he said. "I'm much more interested in the people who care for them, to help them live through it."

Franklin said he will use his role as honorary chairperson as an opportunity to encourage others to support the Alzheimer's organization and those afflicted with the disease.

The Neuse Region Memory Walk, covering Wayne, Lenoir, Greene, Johnston, Sampson, and Duplin counties, will take place Saturday at Herman Park. Registration begins at 9 a.m., followed by the walk at 10 a.m.

There will also be music, dancers, clowns, food and beverages. Roses can be purchased in honor or memory of a loved one.

And there will be a Guardian Angel Thrift Donation Station, where clothes, household and decorative items will be collected.

The thrift store itself, located at 742 N. Main St., in Fuquay-Varina, is already well known by those in the Alzheimer's community. It was founded by Laura Gaddis, whose mother had the disease for 12 years.

The business was started in September 1999, two months before her mother died.

Ms. Gaddis said her desire was to raise money for Alzheimer's, but funds were limited. Starting the thrift shop allowed others to help.

"The public response has been overwhelming," she said. "That's why it's been so successful."

She said it is not uncommon to see people come in and drop off four boxes in the rear of the store, then come up front, shop and leave with two bags of items they have bought for themselves.

"It's like a huge yard sale with merchandise turning over," she said.

Housed in a 26,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by Harris Teeter, Ms. Gaddis said the contents range from toys and jewelry, to books, shoes, clothing and antiques. Large appliances, mattresses or computers are not accepted.

Proceeds benefit the Alzheimer's Association in Raleigh. Last year, $300,000 went to research being done at Duke and UNC hospitals.

"We just ask that the funds stay in North Carolina," she said.

There are plans to open a second thrift shop location in Charlotte next month.