Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor Jeff Miller, the retired West Des Moines police officer who is currently walking across the entire state of Iowa in honor of his sister Linda, who passed away from Alzheimer’s disease.
Jeff has been hiking across the state for about a week now in the hopes of raising money and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. He started his cross-state journey on Saturday the 24th in Akron and plans to follow Highway 3 to Dubuque, which is approximately 325 miles east, documenting his journey via YouTube along the way. Jeff has been camping when he can, but the kindhearted people of Iowa have also opened their homes and sponsored hotel stays for Jeff so he can be well rested enough to resume his treks the next day. Jeff has also opened his walk to anyone who wishes to walk alongside him, if only for a mile or two.
Jeff’s sister Linda was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s in 2012 and lost her battle five years later. According to Jeff’s page on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s website, Linda always referred to Jeff as her “bratty little brother," but you can’t doubt the closeness the two shared as he makes his way to the Mississippi River.
Jeff is asking for donations to the Alzheimer's Association in honor of Linda and those who have been affected by the disease. The Alzheimer's Association provides care to all those facing Alzheimer's. Their goals and missions are to drive research toward treatment, prevention and, ultimately a cure, as well as speak up for the needs and rights of people affected by Alzheimer's disease.
Jeff’s goal with this hike is to raise awareness and donations, but he also wishes for it to be a beacon of hope and understanding for people. He hopes it reminds Iowans to love their family and friends, and to hold each other as close as they can for as long as they can.
It is incredibly honorable to use your voice to raise awareness for those who cannot always raise awareness for themselves, but actions sometimes speak louder than words. Jeff’s devotion to his family and to the cause are undoubtedly admirable, and we as Iowans will continue to cheer Jeff on in his mission to bring awareness to Alzheimer’s disease. It is my honor to recognize Jeff Miller as our Iowan of the Week.