The Sun News

Memaw was great mother, wonderful cook, and now son is walking to help others like her

Sheldon Hudlin
Sheldon Hudlin

Sheldon Hudlin, the owner-operator of 1st Class Cleaning Service, talks about the upcoming Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s at North Peach Park in Bryon and about how his mother’s struggles inspired him.

Q: What will you be doing Sept. 29?

A: A team walk at the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s at North Peach Park in Bryon. Registration is that Saturday at 10 a.m. and the two-mile walk is at 11:30 after a short program at 11.

Q: Why are you doing it?

A: My mom — everybody called her Memaw — was diagnosed with dementia about three years ago, suffered from Alzheimer’s and passed away this past April. I have an aunt who’s suffered from Alzheimer’s for eight or 10 years. I started learning about Alzheimer’s and wanted to help bring awareness and raise money in memory of my mom but not just for her sake, for all the people and families living with it.

Q: Can you tell me some about your mom?

A: She retired from the Houston County school system where she was a cafeteria worker. She also catered for groups in the community and on Robins Air Force Base. She was really outgoing— never met a stranger. She had a cleaning business, too, but her passion was cooking and fishing.

Q: Those go together.

A: Oh, yeah.

Q: What was your favorite dish she made?

A: Oh, that’s hard to narrow down. I guess fried chicken. Yeah, fried chicken. But her desserts — just name one, fill in the blank — they were all good. Really good.

Q: How did Alzheimer’s first affect your mother?

A: During conversations, she would repeat herself or tell the same thing over again. That can be normal, but it got worse and worse. She’d end up telling you the same thing again and again, over and over, in the same conversation. Things like that. Forgetfulness. In her case, it got bad really quick and she passed away in just a few years. She passed peacefully.

Q: So you’ve taken up the cause?

A: I want to be a voice when people can’t speak for themselves when their memory won’t let them, and I want to speak for those who’ve passed. Alzheimer’s is robbing us of that Greatest Generation. I want to do anything I can do, walk, raise funds, change a company logo, do a blog, speak out, help raise awareness and bring information how to deal with Alzheimer’s — help however I can help.

Q: Why do you say that about a logo?

A: My business is 1st Class Cleaning Service and I actually changed the colors and dynamics of our look and logo and our vans to honor Memaw and highlight the fight against Alzheimer’s. My Alzheimer’s Walk team is called 1st Class for Memaw. One day there will be a cure.

Q: How can people find out about the walk? How can they join or contribute through your team?

A: Several ways. You can Google 1st Class for Memaw and it should get us. You can go to alz.org/walk and search for us, or you can just text me at 478-952-7075 and I’ll text you the link. That would be great if people would do that and help.

Q: The walk is a fundraiser, how is the money used?

A: Money goes to Alzheimer’s Association work to help provide care to people suffering from Alzheimer’s and to fund research. The care part includes helping local people and services in Middle Georgia.

Q: How much has been raised in the past?

A: They say in 2017 the Walk to End Alzheimer’s raised close to $90 million nationwide and $2.7 in Georgia.

Q: Do you know how many are affected by Alzheimer’s?

A: The association says five million have Alzheimer’s in the U.S. and it’s the sixth leading cause of death. Plus it’s the only one of the top 10 causes of death that can’t be prevented or cured. There are 140,000 people in Georgia with Alzheimer’s and the number is growing fast. That’s why we have to educate and work for a cure.

Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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