“They say it’s the long goodbye and it truly is,” says Gina Martin, a National Geographic Creative employee. The long goodbye she references is Alzheimer’s. In 2011, Martin’s mother, Diane, died after a five-year fight against the disease. “I saw up close what Alzheimer’s does to a person and their family,” she says. And that’s why she decided to launch the Bob and Diane Fund, an organization that will promote and help finance photographic work about Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The fund offers an annual $5,000 grant for stories that deal with loss or with the growing medical crisis caused by Alzheimer’s, says Martin. “I want people to know that Alzheimer’s is more than just memory loss. It’s so much deeper and devastating than that. It affects the family and the caregivers deeply. It’s a complete personality change of the person.” Martin’s mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2006, upending her life and that of her family members. “My father, Bob, was her loyal caregiver for five years,” says Martin. “He died just three months [after Diane died].”
The Bob and Diane grant is open for entries until Oct. 15. The winner will be announced in November.