Teri Swezey set out on a cross-country journey this month with her mother in mind.
Swezey, who normally resides in Carrboro, began walking on April 1 from Wrightsville Beach to raise money and awareness for the elderly and their caregivers.
She will end her 3,039 mile walk in Cambria, Calif., in about six to seven months.
Swezey helped create the organization Seniors Obtaining Assistance and Resources Inc. (SOAR), because her late mother developed mixed vascular dementia — a disease caused by problems with the blood supply to the brain, and the second most common form of dementia.
Swezey, a 57-year-old public health researcher, said caring for her mother was transformative.
“I became my mother’s mother,” she said. “Because of dementia, it was difficult for her to lose her independence.”
She said the experience made her appreciate the importance of quality of life and relationships with others.
“While we had our battles, we also had the sweetest moments,” she said.
She said her mother’s spirit motivated her to begin her walk.