As a palliative care nurse, Deidra Atwood has spent a majority of her life and career helping people as they have endured many different disease processes.
Her dedication, however, is not limited to the clinical setting she works in. Through her efforts to combat disease, Atwood’s work is done in a different type of arena – the demolition derby on the opening night of the New River Valley Fair.
This was Atwood’s second year competing in the derby. Last year, she drove her car into the ring to get pummeled in the name of cancer research.
This year, Alzheimer’s disease was her focus.
“I had too many people ask me if I was gonna do it again this year to get out of it, so I really didn’t have a choice,” Atwood joked. “Not that I wouldn’t have done it.”
Atwood, along with several friends and family members, have managed to create a following in their efforts to fight the illness. Last year, she was inspired to enter the derby after losing two patients she had grown close to in the same week to cancer.
Her inspiration this year was the mother of one her neighbors, who suffers from dementia. Overall, she intends to bring more awareness to the disease, and help others find the resources they need for their loved ones afflicted by it.
“This is really the intent of doing something like this, to get out in the community and educate people about disease processes and how we can help prevent them and what we can do for you once you have those diseases,” Atwood said.
“We’re just getting the word out.”
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