Gearing up to run her seventh marathon, a Litchfield Park woman has created a fundraising campaign in honor of her favorite person.
Maureen Cardosa has dubbed her marathon campaign “Dublin for Dementia.” With the help of her partner, the University of Washington Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund, Cardosa hopes to raise $50,000.
“At the end of last August, and I don’t know if it was because of COVID, but I just really felt like I needed another goal,” Cardosa said.
“I had researched what they were doing at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in Seattle and saw they were doing so much and I just thought it was a really good opportunity, so I reached out to them and I created the campaign Dublin for Dementia.”
This cause hits close to home, as Cardosa’s 84-year-old mother, Rosemary Gaither, has suffered from dementia for the past 20 years.
“We started seeing the signs of dementia in her early 60s,” Cardosa said. “She’s been struggling with this disease for about 20 years. But she is just an amazing woman, very active in St. Thomas, the Catholic church there in Litchfield Park. She’s just a very kind, caring person and loves her family. It was always her family first, and she just always wanted to help others.”
Cardosa’s Dublin for Dementia campaign teamed up with the University of Washington, a school the Cardosa family has grown to love because Maureen’s son, Jake Wambaugh, was a collegiate athlete there for five years.
Wambaugh, a preferred walk-on-turned-scholarship football player, graduated from UW in 2019. Cardosa said she owes the university for his quality education and the mentorship he received from coach Chris Petersen.
“For Petersen, it was so much more than football. He just taught them how to be real men and have goals in life beyond football,” she said.
“We had the pleasure of being with him for five years because my son redshirted his first year,so overall just an amazing university academically, and just everybody that I’ve ever dealt with at the University of Washington, they’re amazing.”
Now, Cardosa gives back to the university while also raising money to help fund research for her mother’s disease.
Gaither lives in the La Loma Care Center in Litchfield Park, where Cardosa said her mother receives ideal care.
Prior to being diagnosed with dementia, Gaither was a nurse for the La Mirage Clinic and Glendale Primary Care Center.
“She’s an amazing lady, a very giving person. She was a nurse her whole life, so she served others and raised four kids. Even in her later years she was volunteering for elderly people. She would go visit some of the ones in Sun City that were kind of like shut-ins. She just enjoyed helping people,” Cardosa said.
As the race’s date approaches, Cardosa’s campaign has raised over $8,000 and her physical training is getting more intense.
However, the location of the race is not what she hoped for. Due to COVID-19, the Dublin Marathon has been canceled. Instead, she’s running in the Rock ’n’ Roll San Diego Marathon.
Despite the location change, Cardosa said she feels ready for the race and hopes to see the fundraising numbers soar in the next two months.
As for the city where she grew up, Cardosa said she is grateful for the memories she has made in Litchfield Park, a city she said she will always consider home.
“It was very rural back then. It was the perfect place to raise a family, and I really believe it still is. There’s not a better place. Litchfield Park itself just felt so contained. I went to Agua Fria High School and my sister went to Litchfield Elementary School, and I always felt like it was just a protected environment. The people were great. It was just a great place to be and grow up,” Cardosa said.
For more information on Cardosa’s Dublin for Dementia campaign or to donate, visit acceleratemed.org/