CICOA 2014 Caregiver of the Year Named
POSTED: April 17, 2014
Mark A. Lee, Indianapolis, Ind., was named the 2014 Caregiver of the Year this morning at the fifth annual CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions’ Signature Breakfast at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, Ind. The Caregiver of the Year Award honors one personal caregiver in Central Indiana who models courage, sacrifice, strength and creativity while caring for another.
Lee is one of the estimated 65.7 million people in the United States who provide care for an elderly or disabled family member. According to The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 66 percent of caregivers are women. However, caregivers also can be husbands or adult sons who selflessly and compassionately care for a loved one.
Lee is a devoted son who, from 2011 to 2013, helped to care for his father, who had Alzheimer’s and emphysema. A professional photographer, Lee moved his computer and other equipment to his parents’ home in 2011 and continued to operate his business, Great Exposures, while taking care of his father.
Initially, Lee shared stories about his dad on his Facebook page. Friends encouraged him to share more about the challenges of being a family caregiver, and he started to chronicle his experiences in a NUVO Newsweekly blog named Raising Dad. Readers welcomed his candid, heart wrenching and sometimes humorous accounts.
Lee’s father, Jim, passed away Sept. 13, 2013. After the funeral, Lee and his friends formed a team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and raised almost $3,000. Lee is currently working on a book about his dad, tentatively titled “Raising Dad.” Lee said he is humbled about being named the Caregiver of the Year and acknowledges that family, church members and friends helped too.
“They say it take a village to raise a child,” Lee said. “It also takes a village to help someone with Alzheimer’s.”
In addition to recognizing caregivers, Signature Breakfast corporate donors and attendees donated $91,000 to provide respite care to area caregivers and support CICOA programs.
CICOA also officially kicked off a year-long celebration of its 40th anniversary at the Signature Breakfast with a proclamation from Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard declaring April 17 as CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions Day. Orion H. Bell IV, CICOA President and CEO, said, “In our 40th year, we will continue to focus on CICOA’s vision to help create and maintain a Central Indiana community where older adults and those of any age with a disability flourish.”