At first glance, it’s a simple photo of eight small crochets mounted in three rows on a light background and set in a wooden frame. But there is much more to it than that.
The photograph is a visual representation of the progressive effects of Alzheimer’s, compiled by the artist’s daughter, who has Alzheimer’s disease. The photo, which went viral in 2018, will be auctioned off to raise awareness and funds to fight the neurodegenerative disease.
The photo, My Mom’s Crocheting Alzheimer’s Disease Progression, is up for auction this month in partnership with NetGems, a brokerage firm that represents creators of viral online content. The auction is timed to coincide with Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month, both of which occur in November.
In addition to helping fund her mother’s ongoing care, Sara Wuillermin will also donate 20% of the auction proceeds to Alzheimer’s organizations, including HFC and the Alzheimer’s Association, which she has supported through the Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraiser in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In fact, money is donated to this organization through their Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraising team. The campaign is carried out annually in more than 600 communities nationwide.
“In addition to helping my mother, I wanted to support other families who are struggling to care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s,” Wuillermin said in a press release, where the photo can be viewed. “I chose the Alzheimer’s Association and HFC because I care about their role in funding research and supporting caregivers.”
Her photo shows her mother’s decline, beginning with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, through the chronological arrangement of three rows of “granny squares” her mother crocheted. The earliest works are conventionally square, neat, well defined, and multicolored. As the disease progressed, the pieces became more amorphous and monochromatic, eventually ending in a tangle of dark yarn.
The image made global headlines three years ago after it was posted to Reddit, drawing the attention of philanthropist Bill Gates, People magazine and the Today show.
“I think my photo helps people better understand this disease,” Wuillermin said. “Often people hear ‘Alzheimer’ and think it means a person is a little forgetful. But it’s so much more than that.”
Kristina Fransel, executive director of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, said, “Sara’s picture really illustrates the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on her mother’s brain and its impact on her craft.
“Unfortunately, diagnoses like Sara’s mother’s are all too common in the United States. These stories are central to the association’s mission. Fundraising efforts like Sara’s unique approach and that of other individuals and teams supporting the Walk to End Alzheimer’s help advance and fund Alzheimer’s care, support and research,” added Fransel.
Proceeds going to HFC will support its mission to help families and carers who bear the primary responsibility for 80% of Alzheimer’s sufferers.
“We are immensely grateful to Sara for providing much-needed attention to the disease, which currently affects more than 6 million Americans and 14 million unpaid caregivers,” said Bonnie Wattles, executive director of HFC.