Skip to Content

Columbians share stories of how Alzheimer’s disease has changed their lives


A musician, a COO, a business owner and a mayor.

All in different walks of life, yet connected by one thing. They've all been affected by Alzheimer's disease.

Meredith Shaw is a Mid-Missouri musician and career consultant. She grew up the youngest of eight children on a farm in northeast Missouri.

Meredith Shaw (left) and her mother (photo: Meredith Shaw)

"I'm very lucky to have had the mother that I had, for the time that I had her, " Shaw said. "I wish I could have had her longer."

Megan Steen, chief operating officer for the Central Region at Burrell Behavior Health has also experienced Alzheimer's in her family. Her grandfather was diagnosed with the disease.

Grandfather of Megan Steen (photo: Megan Steen)

"I just remember the impact that it had on our family," Steen said. "Watching my dad be a caregiver."

Steen said while her family was navigating the disease, they were unaware of the resources available.

For the past few years, Steen has dedicated her time and been a part of the Columbia Walk to End Alzheimer's Committee.

Megan Steen and her daughter at the 2022 Columbia Walk to End Alzheimer's (photo: Megan Steen)

"It's been amazing to learn about the services that are provided to the community and to the families that are impacted," Steen said. "Our family never knew about [them]."

Andrew Sharp, co-founder of Logboat Brewing Company in Columbia, has also felt the effects of Alzheimer's hitting his family.

"My great uncle was diagnosed with Alzheimer's," Sharp said. "It was but a few years later that my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's."

Sharp described the impact it had on his family.

"Every situation is so different, but with ours, [it was] a steady decline in a person we all really idolized. Such a gracious man and the patriarch of the family," Sharp said. "It was just really, really awful for everybody to go through and to understand how different this disease is from everything else."

The mayor of Columbia is also no stranger to Alzheimer's disease.

"When my mom was 65 years old, we started to notice some small memory issues which seemed to be more than somebody of her age," said Mayor Barbara Buffaloe.

Barbara Buffaloe and her mother (photo: Barbara Buffaloe)

Throughout their journeys, they've dealt with the grief in all different ways.

"What was taken away from her just kills me sometimes," Shaw said.

But all have pushed through their struggles and turned their grief into something positive.

"I just think about how I'm so thankful and blessed to live in Columbia," Buffaloe said. "We have a great health care system."

University of Missouri Health Care conducts Alzheimer's research at the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health Building.

Just two miles down the road, sits Logboat Brewing Company.

"We started the Ales for Alzheimer's golf tournament," Sharp said. "That was just kind of an ode to him [my grandfather]."

Since going through this journey, many have appreciated the small moments. Shaw's daughter Tristen gave her a card for her doctorate graduation. Shaw's mother signed that card seven years before it was given to her in November 2021.

Card from Meredith Shaw's mother; (photo: Meredith Shaw's Instagram)

"She had this card that my mom had filled out that said, 'I'm so proud of you' and I just lost it," Shaw said.

After battling Alzheimer's for over a decade, Shaw's mother died in June 2022.

Buffaloe fondly recalled a walk day she spent with her mother. On walk day, people hold different colored flowers to represent their connection to the disease, whether they serve as a caregiver or have lost someone. Buffaloe's mother had a blue flower on walk day to represent her Alzheimer's.

"I remember in '21 my mom holding up that color flower," Buffaloe said. "Seeing that support of the flowers is really meaningful."

Join ABC 17 News at the Columbia Walk to End Alzheimer's on Saturday at Faurot Field. Last year, the Columbia Walk raised $195,594. This year, the walk has a goal of $220,000.

Or join ABC 17 News at the Jefferson City Walk to End Alzheimer's on Oct. 15 at Memorial Park. Last year, the Jefferson City Walk broke its all-time record and raised nearly $134,000. This year, the walk has a goal of raising $140,000.

Article Topic Follows: Health

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Meghan Drakas

Meghan joined ABC 17 News in January 2021.
The Penn State grad is from the Philadelphia suburbs where she interned with several local TV stations.


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content