The Purple Canoe Club

In June, our early-stage Alzheimer’s group of friends prepared to do something almost everyone loves to do in the summer.  Attend a baseball game.  It was Harlan Mueller’s idea.  He arranged for the group to get in for half price though an AARP promotion.  We bought a block of 25 tickets and with that we found out  the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club would identify our group on the scoreboard.

Only problem was our group didn’t have an “official” name.  The next day, Steve Schultz, another member of our group who attends with his wife Peggy, began pondering a name for our group. It was actually something he’d been thinking about for a while.

Steve’s favorite restaurant is “Duke’s Canoe Club” in Hawaii.  He really, really likes their teriyaki tofu.  Duke’s namesake is Duke Paoa Kahaimoku who won an Olympic gold swimming medal in 1912.  He brought surfing to the mainland.  The logo for the establishment incorporates three upright surfboards.

That got Steve thinking. While he didn’t see a direct connection with surfboards he really liked the idea of a canoe club. Of course, there are lots of canoe clubs around the country. Some are groups who go canoeing together. Others paddle kayaks.  But Steve was actually envisioning something more like a big canoe like the Native Americans used and later Lewis and Clark used to explore the Louisiana Purchase. Those canoes were really big and unwieldy. They were hard to paddle, in-fact almost impossible to paddle unless a number of paddlers really worked together as a team.

There it was… the perfect symbolism for our group.  A big canoe that’s hard to paddle alone, but can be paddled by a group of friends working together as a team, even allowing a paddler to rest occasionally while the others keep the vessel on course.  In our case, the friends are a group of couples living and surviving with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Of course, the official color of Alzheimer’s disease is Purple.  And so the Purple Canoe Club was born.  Who knew that a baseball game and a scoreboard opportunity could create so much excitement – and an identity – for our social group.  All thanks to Steve Schultz and his dear wife, Peggy.  We are all in this journey together.  Sharing and supporting each other on this venture.

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~ Barbara Cheek Johnson is a journalist living with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease ~

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