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Student Spotlight
Tackling a tough opponent

The Blondes versus Brunettes game in April 2011 was flag football, so there was no tackling involved. But the game will always have a special place in Lara Parker’s heart. The event was part of the “Let’s Tackle Alzheimer’s” initiative to raise money for research. To participate, the players had to raise at least $250.

  

Interested in being a part of this great cause?

Contact Lara at parkerl@uindy.edu.

Lara’s reason for participating? To honor her grandma.“It was a slow process,” the junior communication/public relations major says of the disease that robbed her of her grandmother. When she didn’t recognize me, it was one of the hardest things to deal with. I grew up going over to my grandma’s house every day after school. Then one day she just wasn’t herself anymore. It’s the worst disease in the world on loved ones because those suffering from the disease are perfectly healthy otherwise. They may live and prosper physically for years while families and friends have to suffer.”

Before game day, teams recruit coaches, announcers, and other volunteers “to build an atmosphere of fierce but friendly competition.” The players gathered for three practices—all on rainy days. Game day, however, was beautiful and sunny, and people of all ages came to the Midwest Sports and Social Complex in Indianapolis to support the cause. More than 40 players took part in the game, and lots of spectators—each asked to contribute $20 to research—came to watch the fun and festivities.

MVP—of fundraising

Lara’s Brunettes team prevailed over the Blondes with a score of 20-6. For Lara, though, the accomplishments were far from over.

Lara earned the title of “Top Overall Fundraiser,” contributing more than $1,400 to Alzheimer’s research. While winning the game and raising the most money are memories she’ll always enjoy, they still weren’t the best part for her.

“The most rewarding part was knowing that I had done something to honor my grandmother,” Lara says, “and that I’d helped join the fight against this disease. I just know she would be proud.”

As far as her success in fundraising goes, Lara links it to her study in the public relations field at UIndy.

“UIndy’s PR program outshines any other program,” Lara says proudly. “Teaching me more public relations skills and communication skills helped me spread my message and find ways to get people involved with my fundraising efforts.”

Lara says she’s been inspired by one of her UIndy professors, Rebecca Deemer, who is the reason she went into public relations and is so passionate about the field today. This was the first time the Blondes versus Brunettes game was held in Indianapolis, but the Alzheimer’s Association hopes to make it an annual thing. And thanks to Lara’s enthusiasm and professionalism, she was asked to be on the board for next year’s event to help plan and improve it.

Drafting new talent

Lara also has some plans of her own for next year.

“I would love to really get UIndy involved. I would like to recruit girls to play in it with me, maybe from the various residence halls. And maybe set some tables up in Schwitzer Student Center to help spread the word more!

“I just wish no one else ever had to go through this terrible ordeal of Alzheimer’s,” she says. “So getting involved and raising money for research seems like the perfect thing to do.”

—Sarah Stierwalt ’13