Alzheimer’s Association founder honored for creating support group

HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) – Life will test you and when it does, having support can make all the difference.

For Mary Margaret Fosmark, that test came when her 39-year-old husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“It was almost a relief to get the diagnosis because then you had a name for it, although that name came without a cure,” Fosmark said.

Watching her husband slowly drift away was difficult, but Fosmark joined a support group known as the Butterfly Group, to provide comfort.

“There were times when I didn’t think I would make it, and this group helped me out. If you have any issues you can discuss them in there, some people can offer suggestions, you can take them, you can leave them, no one is judging you, and that’s fine,” Fosmark said.

The group is a therapeutic space where caregivers can express their difficulties, share best practices and find a reason to continue.

In her darkest hour, Mary Margaret found the strength to do just that.

“After my husband died, I stayed there because it meant so much to me – during the time I was going through it,” Fosmark said.

Fosmark’s passion for this group grew out of his admiration for the woman who created it, Mary-Ann Johnson.

“I think my reward is always working with them, and I always tell them, no matter what time of day or night, they can always call me,” Johnson said.

Fosmark appreciates Johnson’s willingness to help, no matter what time of day.

“She gives of her time, her energy, her spirit,” she said.

When they last met, Mary Margaret and the rest of the “butterflies” offered a reward of a different kind: $300 and a $50 gift card to the Mexico restaurant.

When I walked in, I thought, man, this band has grown! Who are all these people? I don’t handle surprises well, and then I started to see who they were,” says Johnson.

A sweet moment for a group of people who entered as strangers became something even more special.

“It’s family, it’s family,” Fosmark said.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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Virginia S. Braud