QUASH: Fun with a purpose

What would it be like to have your own grandmother not recognize you? According to junior business management major Holly Seemann, "It's really hard. You'll go see her and she'll smile like she knows who you are, but she doesn't know your name or how she knows you."

UNI students participating in QUASH 2012.

Seemann's grandma suffers from Alzheimer's, a disease that affects peoples' memory, mood and behavior. Her grandma was diagnosed with the disease when Seemann was just 13 years old. "At first it was a little bit funny, because we were just like, 'Oh, Grandma, you're just forgetting things, you're getting older,'" she said. "But then we realized how serious it was."

While seeing her grandma's memory deteriorate over time has been hard, it also motivates Seemann to try to make a change and raise awareness of Alzheimer's. She's able to do this by participating in UNI Advocates for Alzheimer's (A4A) and the Quest to Unravel Alzheimer's Scavenger Hunt (QUASH). Seemann participated in QUASH for the first time during her sophomore year. "It was really fun," she said. "It felt really good to raise money and know that I was helping to make a difference."

QUASH is a campus-wide scavenger hunt that, according to the Alzheimer's Association website, is "one part mental, one part physical and more fun than you'll have all year." Money raised from the event is donated to the Alzheimer's Association, the leading health organization that provides Alzheimer's care, support and research.

In addition to raising money for the Alzheimer's Association, QUASH aims to raise awareness about Alzheimer's disease among college students. "Whether college students know it or not, it's going to affect their future in some way," said Brittney Boche, junior gerontology major and president of A4A. "I may not have any personal connections now, but I know I'm going to in the future if there's not a cure."

This is why it's so important for people to get involved. QUASH is an easy way for UNI students to do that. The event will be held at UNI on Friday, April 25, in the West Gym. Registration is $15 and participants can join or create a team. Each participant is asked to raise at least $100, and prizes will be awarded to those who raise more. There will also be prizes for the team who earns the most points during the scavenger hunt, as well as prizes for creative costumes.

While Boche says the event will be fun, as a member of Q-Crew, the committee that plans QUASH, she doesn't want to lose sight of the event's purpose. "We just want to step it up, start raising funds for research, and provide awareness and advocacy throughout the UNI community and the community around us," she said.

Seemann shares this commitment to raising awareness, and her personal experience with Alzheimer's motivates her even more. "If I can help other people it'll be worth it," she said. "If I can help raise awareness for this and raise money for it, then hopefully they can find a cure so fewer people have to go through this painful experience."

For more information or to register for QUASH, visit www.quashatuni.com. To get involved with the Q-Crew or Advocates for Alzheimer's, contact Boche, at bocheb@uni.edu.

*Photos are courtesy of the Northern Iowan.