You might say Bethany Chamberlin was tricked into becoming an ALZ Star. One of Beth’s peers—who shall go unnamed—recommended she run the ALZ Stars half-marathon. Bethany, always up for an adventure, enthusiastically registered for the rigorous program and committed to the ambitious fundraising goal and distance to conquer.
Fortunately, Beth has never shied away from a challenge. In addition to having defeated the daunting higher-education monster by attaining both Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Sciences writing her Master’s thesis on nursing placement decision making, Beth is a hiker and a snowboarder. And, having just run her first marathon last fall, she’s not letting the ALZ Stars half-marathon intimidate her.
Beth spends as much of the wintertime at Mt. Hood Meadows as possible. She doesn’t just enjoy careening down mountains at breakneck speeds on her snowboard; she also enjoys scaling them on foot. She climbed her first mountain several years ago—just to see what it was like. That mountain was Oregon’s South Sister, a 10,358 volcanic peak that stands as the third-tallest mountain in Oregon. Beth’s next goal is hiking Mt. Saint Helens, which she will complete in early August.
Beth enjoys the outdoors and the adrenaline that accompanies many of the sports she pursues. “My adrenaline seeking activities are fueled by my work with older adults,” she says. “I don’t take any day or any breath for granted and try to live each day to the fullest.”
Beth administers the Oregon STAR-C program, a support project that helps community members caring for a loved one with dementia. The program’s consultants provide caretakers with strategies that decrease difficult behaviors. Sometimes, they even provide respite care. The goal is for this evidence-based program to be successfully translated into the community so that it will be available for future caregivers who will need the service. Beth coordinates all program activities for the grant in Multnomah County.
The caregiving aspect of STAR-C hits close to home for Bethany, as her Grandpa Cliff was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age 72. He lived with Alzheimer’s for ten years before passing away at age 82. “I took that experience very seriously,” Beth says about her grandfather’s illness. She was in grad school for Adolescent Development when her grandpa was diagnosed. “I decided to take this direction and help other families who had a relative with dementia,” Beth says.
Her new career path is a great fit. “I was comfortable working in the aging field because my mother is a long-term/Hospice nurse, so I grew up hanging out in nursing homes and even had my first job as a dining room server in an assisted living.”
“I just love to be around older people”, Beth added. “To me, they symbolize experience, wisdom, and inspiration. They have been there, and done that”.
It’s no surprise that someone with such an adventurous and adaptable spirit can so easily roll with the punches. Her refusal to shy away from the challenges life presents not only led Beth to participate in ALZ Stars—it also led her toward working with people who have Alzheimer’s. STAR-C, the ALZ Stars run and the fight against Alzheimer’s are all stronger because of her.