Auction Photo Shows How Alzheimer’s Can Unravel Patient’s Crocheting

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by Mary Chapman |

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At first glance, it’s a simple photo of eight small crochet works posted in three rows on a light-color backdrop and contained in a wooden frame. But there’s much more to it than that.

The photo is a visual representation of the progressive effect of Alzheimer’s as put together by the daughter of the artist, who is an Alzheimer’s patient. The photo, which went viral in 2018, will be auctioned to raise awareness and funds to battle the neurodegenerative disorder.

The photo, “The Progression of Alzheimer’s Through My Mom’s Crocheting,” will be auctioned this month in partnership with NetGems, a brokerage that represents viral online content creators. The auction is timed to Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month, both in November.

In addition to helping to pay for her mother’s ongoing care, Sara Wuillermin will donate 20% of the auction proceeds to Alzheimer’s organizations, including HFC and the Alzheimer’s Association, which she has supported through the Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraiser in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In fact, money for that organization will be donated through her Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraising team. The campaign is held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide.

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“I wanted to not only help my mom, but to also support other families struggling to care for their loved ones with Alzheimer’s,” Wuillermin said in a press release, where the photograph may be viewed. “I chose the Alzheimer’s Association and HFC because their missions to fund research and support caregivers are important to me.”

Her photo depicts her mother’s decline, beginning with early-onset Alzheimer’s, by the chronological arrangement in three rows of “granny squares” her mother crocheted. The earliest works are conventionally square-shaped, neat, well-defined, and multicolored. As the disease progressed, the pieces became more amorphous and of a single color, finally ending with a tangle of dark-color yarn.

The image made headlines globally three years ago after being posted on Reddit and garnering attention from philanthropist Bill Gates, People magazine, and the “Today” show.

“I think my photo helps people better understand this disease,” Wuillermin said. “Oftentimes people hear ‘Alzheimer’s’ and thinks it means a person is a little forgetful. But it’s so much more than that.”

Kristina Fransel, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Delaware Valley Chapter, said, “Sara’s image really illustrates the effect of Alzheimer’s disease on her mother’s brain and its impact on her craft.

“Unfortunately, diagnoses like Sara’s mother’s are all too common across the United States. These stories are at the core of the Association’s mission. Fundraising efforts, like Sara’s unique approach, and those of other individuals and teams supporting the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, help to fuel and fund Alzheimer’s care, support, and research,” Fransel added.

Proceeds that will go to HFC will support its mission of helping families and caregivers, who bear the brunt of responsibilities for 80% of Alzheimer’s patients.

“We are beyond grateful to Sara for bringing much-needed attention to the disease currently affecting over 6 million Americans and 14 million unpaid family caregivers,” said Bonnie Wattles, HFC’s executive director.