HISTORY

Cycling Without Age is a program introduced by Eric and Bernadette Russow as part of the Dementia Friendly Community Initiative, Inc.– Walworth County located in Elkhorn, WI. The Russow’s share a strong commitment to projects concerning memory care, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and mobility issues.

The Dementia Friendly Community Initiative, Inc. Walworth County is a 501 [c] [3] non-profit organization, which was developed with the volunteer support of Mr. Tom Gardiner of the GKWW Law Firm in Lake Geneva and Chicago. CWA purchased two electric tri-shaw bicycles from a company in Denmark. The cycles are piloted by trained volunteers and can accommodate two riders. The large tri-shaws are transported in a trailer to various locations within Walworth County. Kunes Automotive has generously provided loaner trucks to tow the trailer to events.

Sixteen pilots were initially trained in March 2021, and despite the challenges of Covid, CWA provided 473 rides between May and October. CWA was present at numerous functions in Walworth County during 2021 & 2022 including Cinco de Mayo in Delavan, Saturday on the Square in Veteran’s Park, Elkhorn, Scarecrow Fest, Delavan, and the Holiday parade in Elkhorn.

In 2022 CWA participated in 50 events. CWA participated in festivals, parades, and farmer’s markets around the county. Churches, retirement homes, and senior focused organizations were encouraged to schedule events for those that they serve.

In 2023, CWA has scheduled 120 events, with the addition of 2 bikes, for a total of 4. The goal is to provide 1,440 opportunities to get out from isolation and enjoy all that nature has to offer and give the gift of our community back to those that have given so much to us. The Dementia Friendly Community Initiative, Inc., sponsor of CWA will also continue to add to the 80+ businesses, police and first responder departments, faith communities and others that have been awarded the Purple Angel to signify that they have been trained. We will also add to our volunteer pilots, develop capital fund-raising campaigns, and work towards the purchase of two additional trishaws and an additional trailer. Will you consider giving the gift of our community back to those who no longer remember or cannot take part in its vitality?

Founders: Eric & Bernadette Russow

Upon return to Wisconsin and relocating to Elkhorn, Bernadette and Eric split their time between their Financial Service Business and volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s program. In 2014, they began their efforts to start a Memory Café at the Matheson Memorial Library. Since then there are now 6 Memory Cafés in Walworth County. In 2016 Bernadette and Eric began to devote their time to developing a Dementia Friendly Community, with Bernadette as the President. Within 2 years it became the first County in Wisconsin to be designated as a Dementia Friendly County by Dementia Friendly America. They have now trained over 6,000 individuals and over 70 businesses, faith communities, first responders and groups in the county. In 2021 they started the program “Cycling Without Age.”

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Eric Russow has had his private financial services business for the past 25 years and continues today. He and his wife Bernadette have worked with the Alzheimer’s Association since 2007. They were awarded the Wally Phillips Spirt award in 2016 and began the Dementia Friendly Community Initiative in 2016. Walworth County was the first county in Wisconsin to be recognized Nationally by the Dementia Friendly America Network and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Bernadette Russow had her own child care business for many years and also was a top Wisconsin Real Estate agent for 20 years. In 1996 Bernadette became a personal care giver for her father, until his passing in 2000. She then joined Eric in his personal financial services business, They have been involved with Alzheimer’s Association since 2007 and began the Dementia Friendly Community Imitative with Eric in 2016. They have been married for 57 years.

John F. Davis is a retired dentist, and is a member of the Delavan-Darien Rotary Club, delivers Meals on Wheels, and helped establish Rainbow Hospice in Park Ridge, IL. John and his wife, Kathy, are CWA-Walworth pilots.

Patricia Swan has lived in the East Troy area since she and her husband purchased a farm there shortly after marriage. They raised three children and have 12 grandchildren. After finishing graduate studies at Whitewater in the 80’s, Pat worked as an individual and family therapist and had a clinic in Elkhorn for a number of years. Her husband, Paul, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016. They enjoy meeting new friends and attending a variety of dementia friendly events in Walworth County.

Lisa Selje is a lifelong Wisconsin resident currently living near Milton, Wisconsin. She earned a BA from UW-Madison in 1988 and MLIS in 1996. She raised a family of five children in Rio, Wisconsin, and worked professionally as a librarian for many years. From 2008, she served as Library Director at the Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn and retired in September, 2021. Lisa currently is caring for elderly parents including her mother with dementia. She is an avid reader and lifelong gardener, and became a Master Gardener through the UW-Extension program in Walworth County. She enjoys traveling and visiting her kids and grandkids.

Anna is a creative director at Thinkwell Group, an experienced design agency based in Los Angeles, CA. She works with clients to create immersive storytelling environments. This work takes her from MA in art history and material culture from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is a member of numerous professional organizations and has presented nationally on interpretation and storytelling, identity and community building, and improvisation in guest experience. -  "I am honored to join the Dementia Friendly Community Initiative. Our collective memory shapes and grows our culture, and this is only possible when we empathize with the stories of those around us. The grace and care at the center of this work is inspiring, and I am excited to see it continue to change lives."

Sandra Anselmo

Andy Kerwin

Marcia Blimbergs