What is AAQI?

Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI)  officially ended its fund raising efforts in December of 2013 after being in operation since 2006. Ami Simms, the Board of Directors and countless numbers of volunteers earned well over One Million Dollars for Alzheimer's Research funding.

 The AAQI has now raised more than One Million Dollars!!! since January 2006! And that money has not only raised awareness but funded some amazing research at a number of wonderful research organizations.

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) was founded by Ami Simms, a wonderful quilter, quilt teacher, and more importantly, a loving daughter and care giver of her own mother who had been battling Alzheimer's Disease.

In 2006, her idea of using quilts and quilters was put into action with the creation of "The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative" (www.AlzQuilts.org), an organization, a multi-tiered website, and a lot of amazing and wonderful volunteers staffing it and creating quilts every step of the way.

As a national, grassroots charity it's mission is to raise awareness and fund research for Alzheimer's Disease. And since January of 2006, we have auctioned off or directly sold many, many thousands of these beautiful little quilts and sponsored two nationally touring exhibit of quilts about Alzheimer's.

I am deeply proud to have been an active volunteer in this organization, having had many, many family members suffer from Alzheimer's or a related dementia. While helping this organization, I was proud to form this volunteer group based on Internet bloggers/quilters from all over the world. Our small group created and donated over 600 quilts for AAQI and Alzheimer's research funding.

This is our shared story as so many of us, as volunteers, bonded together to support this amazing grassroots effort.

In addition, some of us have formed groups such as the one that I started January 1, 2010. My group the Liberated Quilting Challenge began when I realized I wanted to do even more than I was already doing. At that point I was traveling back and forth from my current home in Salem, Oregon to my childhood home on Douglas Island near Juneau, Alaska, to care for my own mother who was battling Alzheimer's Disease.

After five years of the progression of her disease, and a combined total of 3 years of care giving, I knew it was only going to get harder, more challenging, and even more frightening to watch the horrible deterioration and unbelievable mental, and physical loss of control in my mother. I also realized by then, that my own family had 13 members with direct DNA and two by marriage..one grandpa, both parents, and multiple aunts, and uncles..with this terrible disease or a related dementia. (2 more by marriage) And I knew that based on current statistics there was a very good chance that the same might happen to me.

I contacted online bloggers who were also quilters and asked them to join in and make a difference in the lives of so many others. It was heartwarming to see the response I got as the quilts began to be created and donated.

And while we are still a relatively small group..the equivalent of a very, very small quilt guild...we have donated literally hundreds of quilts to AAQI. I, myself, have now created and donated 75 quilts ...some of them were placed directly for sale, and two of them on the national tour with the traveling exhibit.... all the while I was still traveling back and forth to Alaska, caring for my parents without outside help in their home, and blogging about my experiences.

It is challenging, but the more you do, the more you want to do. And the corollary for me, the more I give..the more I wished I could give. It is a deep, deep feeling of truly making a difference, in my own small way..one little quilt at a time.