Leading The Charge
When one of his clients walks into his office and tells him they or one of their family members has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, Edward Jones financial advisor Ryan Chapman often senses feelings of powerlessness and trepidation.
There's no cure, probably nothing they could have done to prevent it and no way of lessening its impacts. And the disease that erodes the fabric of memory can also wither relationships bound for decades.
"The most impactful (thing) is listening to husbands tell me that their wife is alive but she's not with them anymore. When you have to remind someone that they love you it's pretty heartbreaking, (and also) when you have to tell someone how long their money will last and it's not very long to receive the care they need, and even seeing the fear in people's eyes if they just had a relative with it (is impactful)," said Chapman, a Lake Oswego resident.
So Chapman works so that he can provide more hopeful answers for future families faced with Alzheimer's.
As of last week, Chapman was the top individual donor and a part of the top fundraising team for the Walk to End Alzheimer's event, which raises money for the Alzheimer's Association and will take place Aug. 24 in the Rose Quarter Commons. But that's not his only role in the event: He's also serving as chair for the second consecutive year. The Alzheimer's Association funds Alzheimer's research and helps provides care for those afflicted with the disease, among other things.
"The dream is that one day there isn't a walk to end Alzheimer's because we ended it," Chapman said.
Chapman's journey to becoming so involved in the Alzheimer's event precipitated from an unlikely source: the flux of the Rams NFL organization.
Edward Jones was previously the corporate sponsor for the Rams and the Rams' stadium in St. Louis was called Edward Jones Dome. However, when the team moved to Los Angeles in 2016, it changed sponsorship. So, according to Chapman, Edward Jones decided to devote its efforts to more philanthropic pursuits and in turn became the national sponsor for the nationwide Walk to End Alzheimer's campaign.
"I was proud that the company decided that is (the Alzheimer's Association) a better investment in sponsor dollars than a football team," Chapman said.
After that, Chapman was asked to lead the financial planning company's fundraising efforts in the Portland metro area. He accepted and continues in that role to this day. But he also became the co-chair for the event in Portland three years ago and then the chair the last two years. Additionally, he is on the board for the Alzheimer's Association's Oregon and Southwest Washington chapter.
Chapman has raised over $10,000 for this year's event, which is about a third of what Edward Jones' staffers have contributed in the metro area and about half of his team's contribution. He said he often raises a large chunk of money during a companywide retreat.
"I wish I had a magical fundraising tip. Typically it involves really good wine and a really sincere ask," Chapman said. "Luckily the message resonates (enough that) I don't have to be incredibly innovative yet."
Chapman does not have a family history of Alzheimer's but seeing the way it has affected his clients has made the push to eradicate the disease more personal for him.
"It's super painful to hear stories of families and spouses. One of the most common things you do with families is reminisce and when that becomes one sided it's such a lonely experience for caregivers and those that are left, and a frustrating experience for those with the disease," Chapman said.
Chapman said he discusses the possibility of Alzheimer's with all of his clients and helps them manage finances to properly prepare for it.
"There's a variety of financial techniques to prepare for that side of it, whether that's managing portfolio composition and withdrawals, insurance solutions," he said. "The biggest thing is making sure people address their own desires for care and what they want. They are likely not the one making those choices ultimately."
And Chapman said that the significantly higher cost of memory care, sometimes over $10,000 a month, compared to standard assisted living can be onerous.
"Even if they have the means to provide that level of care for themselves indefinitely that's an amount of wealth that will not transfer to the next generation, not be given to charity, paying for college," Chapman said. "It's a very inefficient use of wealth late in life."
Chapman doesn't advertise his philanthropic efforts to clients but said that working so heavily with the Alzheimer's Association has helped him provide better guidance.
"I've been doing this (financial planning) for well over a decade. Previously they'd get the diagnosis and I'd try to be as empathetic as I could. Now I know who to call, what to do and what resources (are available to them)," he said.
On walk day, Chapman can be found supplying water, loading trucks and dealing with any situations that may arise.
Meanwhile, he feels a sense of satisfaction that he and others are making a difference.
"It's similar to the feeling you get at the end of a workout. You put in a lot of time and effort and it's not easy," Chapman said. "This is one day the Portland community can get together and celebrate the efforts we've made and reignite the efforts to do more this year."
For more information on the walk, visit https://act.alz.org/site/
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