Funny, charismatic, honorable, kind, proud, independent, loving, men of integrity.  These are just a few ways I would describe my grandfathers.  They were both decorated veterans of the United States Navy.  They loved their families with vigor.  They were not shy about letting the world know they were proud of us in each and every way.

Dementia began to take over my Grandpa, Larry Keith Crawford’s mind in the years 2010-2011.  My mom's family quickly got as many tests conducted as possible. They found he had a very particular form of the disease called Lewey Body Dementia.  This disease, we came to find, would take over his mind, and body, and fast at that.  The pain of watching a decorated and proud Master Chief in the US Navy deteriorate was immense.  His humor, smile and infectious kindness that his great grandchildren, grandchildren, wife and kids knew was gone before we knew it.  On February 23rd 2012 we lost our Grandpa Larry to his battle with dementia.

My Poppops, Jon Eric Dorsch Sr., began to show signs of dementia in the end of my college years around 2016.  This wasn't the families first rodeo. Extensive tests were run, and a similar prognosis was given.  Poppops would slowly deteriorate until his mind and body were no longer working in tandem.  We watched my dad's dad, slowly but surely lose who he was. He was a Navy veteran, loyal husband, strong father, loving grandfather, and one you could always rely on for a spontaneous adventure.  He was placed in a memory care home in the summer of 2020 and passed away on October 28th, 2020. 

Dementia, for any family is tough.  Watching someone you love, lose their sense of self, and forget all of the memories you hold close to your heart is painful as hell.  Dementia patients are gone from this world, long before their physical passing.  

I am competing in a full distance Ironman triathlon on June 27th, 2021.  This race is dedicated to my grandfather’s and my wonderful family.  They will be watching over me along the way and I hope to make them as proud as I am to be their granddaughter.

I want to raise money for the Alzheimer's Foundation of America during my training process, with hopes that in the coming years, research for dementia will be funded more heavily.  Patients and their families deserve support, and for brilliant scientists to keep researching for a cure.  Your donations will go straight to this foundation to help fund research, support and education for families like mine.  Thank you!

Write a Message of Encouragement

  1. Karen

    Melissa, BIG THANK YOU for all your courage and love on behalf of all families living with dementia-related illnesses. Making Poppops & Grandpa Larry proud. Every. Single. Day. xo

  2. James

    Good luck Melissa. My dad died of Alzheimer’s. I now swim laps for an hour to maybe put off this terrible illness. Great thing you are doing.

  3. Teresa

    What a wonderful way to honor your IronMEN, Melissa! I wish you well as you complete your Ironman in their memory. They were both much loved and are missed tremendously. Hugs, dear girl.


Project Faq



  1. Half Ironman Down, Full To Go [04/20/2021] [Edited: 04/21/2021]