A little over a year ago Forest Park teacher Kathleen Tunny came across a viral social media post about an 84-year-old woman named Betty Pettit known as “Mrs. Betty” who was currently battling Alzheimer’s and dementia.
This topic hits close to Tunny as she recently lost a loved one to the same illness.
“It was like I came across this post at just the right time for me,” said Tunny.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are an estimated 55 million people currently living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias worldwide.
Mrs. Betty’s son had started documenting her journey through the stages of her disease. It all began with a video of Betty talking to her reflection in a full-length mirror, asking the woman her name. When her son told her the woman’s name was Betty, she smiled and said they shared the same name. Her son posted the video on social media and by the next afternoon, views were in the millions.
The Pettit family has captured the attention of audiences around the world including individuals and families who are directly impacted by Alzheimer’s and dementia—like Tunny.
The simple and everyday pleasures in Betty’s life continued to be highlighted by her son and husband after they realized the impact of the initial video. Mrs. Betty has gained a huge following of supporters who send gifts to her P.O. Box regularly.
“It was like she gave the illness a face and a voice,” said Tunny. “People never understand how isolating it is to see someone you love and how they are impacted. It also can be so hard for family members because the relationship with their loved one often changes drastically. I was so inspired by her and her family’s journey that I wanted to show my support.”
Tunny teaches Kindergarten and she decided to share age-appropriate information with her students about the illness and how it can impact memory.
“We started brainstorming ways we could show our appreciation to her and her family for sharing something so intimate,” said Tunny. “The students in my class created cards and artwork for Mrs. Betty. Her son actually documented her receiving the cards at Thanksgiving.”
“It was beautiful to see the joy on her face,” added Tunny.
And with that, the students became some of Mrs. Betty’s youngest fans and they continued the tradition for the upcoming holiday season.
Tunny’s Kindergarten classroom turned into the North Pole and her 14 elves got busy making holiday ornaments and drawings for Mrs. Betty and her family.
“My students have continued to learn the valuable lesson of empathy, caring, and kindness,” said Tunny. “They recognize the beauty in this world and for that I am grateful.”
To view the recent delivery of Forest Park cards and artwork to Mrs. Betty, visit: https://www.facebook.com/reel/1291486615039000/