Kenmore resident Dave Gonlag has been named to the 2019 Alzheimer’s Association National Early-Stage Advisory Group for a one-year term. Gonlag, diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia at the age of 55, is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Alzheimer’s Association Western New York Chapter. Additionally, he serves numerous volunteer roles with the Chapter including as a New York State advocate to foster awareness about the disease with elected officials.
He was chosen because his “personal story living with the disease will bring a unique perspective to key efforts of the national organization including advocacy, programs and consumer awareness initiatives,” according to the acceptance letter he received from the Association, which is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.
“Selection to the advisory group is a great opportunity to communicate the needs and challenges of Early Stage Alzheimer’s and related dementias at a regional and national level,” said Gonlag. “My goal is to share insight into how my diagnosis has impacted my life and how the disease affects the lives of everyone connected to me.”
Gonlag works directly with Chapter Executive Director Jill Horner. “Dave has come a long way in WNY to break down the stigma, misperceptions and fear surrounding Alzheimer’s disease,” said Horner. “He is the consummate advocate in New York State. We could not be more proud of Dave for sharing his personal experiences with the disease to draw attention to early-stage issues.”
Gonlag became the first member of the Chapter’s board who is living with dementia and has been a role model for living well with a diagnosis.
Shelby Edgerly is the Chapter’s Early Stage Services Director and has been involved with the Gonlag family since they first reached out to the Chapter in 2014. “Dave has demonstrated the true power of using your voice and the impact it can have on so many and it has truly been a privilege to see the lives he has touched first hand. We have no doubt that he will continue to impact many lives across the nation and we are so excited that he has been given the opportunity to do so.”
Gonlag will be traveling to Chicago for his first in-person business meeting in the latter part of July. “I am proud to have this opportunity to speak openly about how to deal with this condition and how we can make our communities dementia friendly as we help bring a better understanding of this disease to those diagnosed, their families, and communities as a whole.”
To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and the services offered by the Alzheimer’s Association, call 1-800-272-3900 or visit alz.org.