PEABODY — Of all the myriad booths in the city's International Festival Sunday, one will be staffed by 71-year-old Charlotte Jackson of Peabody, who is raising awareness of Alzheimer's disease in honor of her late husband of 50 years, Bill Jackson.
Bill Jackson wrestled with the "horrible, horrible disease" for a decade before he died in July 2018, his wife said.
"When we were talking about Peabody going purple and it was last year," Charlotte Jackson said, "I felt like I needed to get this done."
For the first time, with her help, Peabody will be going "purple" next week to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease and the work of the Alzheimer's Association. Even the monument in Peabody Square will be lit purple, which is the color for Alzheimer's awareness.
A series of local events next week will culminate in the Northeast Massachusetts Walk to End Alzheimer's on Sept. 15 at Brickstone Square in Andover.
Charlotte and her son, Corey Jackson, have been active in painting Peabody purple with the help of Peabody Main Streets President Deanne Healey, the city's business liaison Debbie MacGregor, Peabody Access TV Executive Director Camille Bartlett, the Northshore Mall and Mayor Ted Bettencourt's office.
"Alzheimer’s disease is devastating not only to those who suffer from it themselves but also to their families and loved ones. Peabody goes Purple next week to do our part as a community to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and show support to all those who are suffering," Bettencourt said.
Corey Jackson is the executive director of Citizens Inn, a Peabody-based nonprofit that works to find housing for those who are homeless and feed the hungry. His dad was a founding board member of the organization. But Bill Jackson had early onset Alzheimer's; he was diagnosed when he was 61, Charlotte Jackson said.
Bill Jackson, who earned an MBA from Northeastern University, eventually could not hold a job. His family watched as his abilities slowly declined. The family kept him home for as long as they could, up until a year and a half before he died.
Corey Jackson said that what made a difference in his dad's care was a connection to Boston neurologist Dr. Daniel Press, one of the disease's leading researchers.
The Jackson family then became involved with the Walk to End Alzheimer's. Since 2012, Team Bill has raised more than $125,000, Corey and Charlotte Jackson said.
But they wanted to do more, especially as the Alzheimer's Association has reported more diagnoses in the area. Lauren Ritchie, senior development officer for the Alzheimer's Association Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter, said more than 150,000 people in Massachusetts and New Hampshire are living with the disease.
"The city of Peabody has really rallied around this initiative, and we are so grateful for their support," Ritchie said in a statement.
In addition to the walk, the Jacksons raise money and awareness with a Freeze Out Ice Cream event at the Peabody-Lynn Elks Lodge in June. Technology consulting firm GravVoc of Peabody is a "triple scoop sponsor."
The owners of GraVoc, President and CEO Dave Gravel, who is also a city councilor-at-large; and his wife, Executive Vice President Cathy Gravel, will be honored at a "Know the 10 Signs" of Alzheimer's event Tuesday, Sept. 10, at the Peabody Black Box Theater.
Charlotte Jackson said she knows there are a lot of people and families on the North Shore dealing with the disease, so it's important for her to get out the word about what the Alzheimer's Association does.
"I'm doing it for everybody," she said.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews.
Peabody goes purple
Sunday, Sept. 8
Peabody International Festival, booth on Main Street near Peabody Square, noon to 5 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 9
Virtual walk, Torigian Senior Center, 79 Central St.; 10 a.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 10
Flag raising, Peabody City Hall, 3 p.m.
“Know the 10 Signs” program, Black Box Theater, 22 Foster St., 6 to 9 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 11
Senior Day, Brooksby Farm, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 12
Purple Night Out/memory games, Granite Coast Brewing, 77 Main St., 5 to 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 13
First responders training, Peabody police training room, 9 a.m. to noon
“Science of Hope” at Brooksby Village, 100 Brooksby Village Drive, 10 to 11:30 a.m.