When Greg Wong, 56, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2017, his wife Janelle felt completely overwhelmed, afraid and alone. Her life as she knew it would be forever changed.
Born and raised in Hilo, Greg is a lifelong repair man and small business owner. He and his brother both owned and operated auto repair shops over the years, the most recent being Wong’s Repair on Silva St. in Keaukaha. Unfortunately, after his devastating diagnosis, Greg was forced to close down shop.
Janelle is now Greg’s primary caregiver and is a first- year participant in the Hawaii Island Walk to End Alzheimer’s. “I decided to participate in the Walk this year because I thought it would be a neat way for our family to come together and support Greg. I thought it would be a small group, just my immediate family who would be participating”, says Janelle.
To Janelle’s surprise, just one week after registering her walk fundraising team called Wong’s Repair, the team grew to be the largest in the entire state of Hawaii. “The response has been unbelievable. It really makes me feel good to know that Greg is so loved and supported. It doesn’t feel like I’m in this fight by myself” Janelle says.
There are currently 29,000 Hawaii residents living with Alzheimer’s disease. The Hawaii Island Walk to End Alzheimer’s raises critical funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. The event is a platform for healing and unity — providing the opportunity to come together to honor and support those like Greg and Janelle, who have been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.
Thanks to the event, Janelle is learning the power of her community, her family and in turn the impact that her husband had on those around him. In describing the enormous response she has received Janelle says, “Greg has always been very giving. He has a big heart, and people remember that. I believe all the goodness he has put out is now coming back tenfold.”
Janelle and her Wong’s Repair team plan to walk on Sept. 26 in honor of Greg. This year, to avoid gathering in large groups, the walk opening ceremony will be streamed online and broadcast on Na Leo TV. Participants will then walk in their own neighborhoods or community as individuals or families, donned in purple, the official color of the Alzheimer’s Association.
To register for free and create a walk team of your own, visit act.alz.org/hawaiiwalk.