Mother/daughter duo tackle Alzheimer’s using their talents

October 13, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Sylvie McQuade (left) admires the glass projects daughter Cristina McQuade, 10, made for an Oct. 17 silent auction to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. Sylvie’s will run in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 1 with the Alzheimer’s Team. By Greg Farrar

Sylvie McQuade (left) admires the glass projects daughter Cristina McQuade, 10, made for an Oct. 17 silent auction to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. Sylvie’s will run in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 1 with the Alzheimer’s Team. By Greg Farrar

Each morning, Sylvie McQuade wakes up, puts on her running shoes, takes in the early morning air and runs up to 6 miles.

“It brings balance to my life,” she said. “Once I’m done, I’m ready to tackle the day. It is also a time for me to reflect, pray and organize my day.”

Every two weeks, she runs distances well over a half-marathon, so she can prepare for the 26.2 miles it takes to finish the New York City Marathon, which she’ll compete in Nov. 1.

That may be impressive, she said, but it pales in comparison to what her daughter is doing to help her raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, for whom she’s running.

At 10, Cristina McQuade, a budding young artist, told her mother she’d have a silent auction to help raise money.

“I know she’s doing it for my grandpa and he died of it. I figure it is something I can do to help,” Cristina McQuade said of an Oct. 17 auction. “I can’t offer her $1,000, but I can do something.”

“I’m so proud,” Sylvie said, nearing tears. “When you raise a kid, that is the kind of the qualities you hope to see and teach them those values. Great satisfaction to see the things we are instilling in our children is coming to fruition.”

Sylvie’s father, Hans-Peter Ritschard, died from the disease in 1994.

“When I look at my kids, it makes me sad, because I knew he would have been such an awesome grandfather,” Sylvie said. “He can’t take them for ice cream and he can’t goof around with them. He never got a chance to do that.”

As part of the Alzheimer’s Team running the marathon, Sylvie needs to raise a minimum of $3,000, but has set her goal higher.

“My goal is $6,000,” she said, adding that money goes to the Alzheimer’s Association for research and support of people and families living with Alzheimer’s. “For me, running is a part of who I am. But if I’m going to run 26.2 miles, I may as well not just do it for myself.

“For me, there is no better reason to run than to run with the Alzheimer’s Team, because it affected me.”

Cristina said that when she realized her mother needed to raise money to run in honor of her grandfather, she felt an auction of her artwork could help her mother reach her goals.

“What can we do with all these pieces in the first place?” Cristina asked. “Then, I thought of the auction and donating all that money to help my mom.”

“It’s really cool,” Sylvie added. “She is putting her art to good use and I am putting my running to a good use. It’s a good mother-daughter team.”

Cristina started taking art lessons with a Seattle instructor three years ago and has been taking glass-blowing lessons at artbyfire in Issaquah for the past year.

“She told me she would like to explore glass blowing,” Sylvie said. “But she said, ‘Listen, Mom. If I do this, then whatever I come home with, we’ll use to auction off and you can use the money for your race.’”

So, Cristina has been making pieces prolifically; goblets, paperweights, glass bowls, tree ornaments and decorative flowers, each gaining more artistic quality than the former.

Looking at them displayed on the family’s coffee table, she pointed to ones she hoped others would like as well.

“This, I twisted orange glass to make it look like this,” she said, pointing to a paperweight with twists of blue and orange glass. “I really like orange and blue together. It looks really cool.”

But she’s not just auctioning off prized glass-blown pieces. Cristina is also contributing early works, including colorful oil pastels, bird ink prints on canvas and sketches.

“I really like to do art, because it’s relaxing,” she said.

The McQuades said other locals, like Anne Anderson, have also contributed work for their auction. They’ll also have hors d’oeuvres and beverages for guests, as well as prizes from a raffle.

But after the auction, it’s off to New York for the marathon, and while Sylvie is leaving rubber on the road, her husband Mike, Cristina and daughter Sabrina, 12, will be there to cheer her on.

“Whatever I do, I like to have my family with me,” Sylvie said. “For me, I feel so supported and I feel this symbolic value, especially to be running so close to my father’s birthday.”

Ritschard would have been 68 on Nov. 4, she said.

If you go

7-9 p.m. Oct. 17

465 S.E. Bush St.

Donate by calling 391-2333 or e-mailing

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

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2 Responses to “Mother/daughter duo tackle Alzheimer’s using their talents”

  1. Laura_ICARAStudy on October 15th, 2009 9:18 am

    It is important for patients and families affected by diseases such as Alzheimer’s to consider participating in clinical studies. One such study is the ICARA Study (, whose goal is to explore if an investigational drug, called Bapineuzumab, can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. Clinical studies that test new treatments are the best chance we have for fighting this disease. Current therapies for Alzheimer’s treat the symptoms associated with it, not the disease itself.

  2. Kathy Hatfield on October 16th, 2009 8:38 am

    My name is Kathy and I am the full time caregiver for my eighty one year-old Dad who has Alzheimer’s and lives with me in North Carolina.

    When my Mom died in 2004 and Dad moved in with me, I had no idea what to do. But day by day, I found ways to cope, and even enjoy having my Dad with me.

    So I started writing a blog at, which shows the “lighter” side of caring for someone with dementia.

    After a while, I added over 100 pages of helpful information and tips for caregivers. We even have a Chat room so caregivers can communicate with each other from home. Art and music are a very large part of my Dad’s therapy.

    Please pass this link along to anyone you feel would enjoy it.

    Kathy Hatfield

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