MEDFORD, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A family from Medford and their 30-foot purple school bus are traveling the country to raise awareness for Alzheimer's.
Over the past year, 53-year-old Jeff Craddock and his family have been traveling in their retrofitted school bus to see National Parks. They bought the bus after Jeff was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer's last December.
"The last thing the doctor said to me was, you're healthy, just live your life," Jeff told WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas. "You have your kids and everything, just keep pushing."
And that's what he and his wife, Elissa, have been doing ever since.
"Part of the travel and meeting these new people is that Jeffrey gets to explain to them something that he really knows," she said. "This is my bus, this is my family, this is why we're doing it."
It took a while before Jeff and Elissa found out something was wrong. Before the diagnosis, Jeff's seeming lack of interest in his family or forgetful ways put a strain on his marriage and his three children.
"I didn't know for how much longer we would actually be together," Elissa said.
But after the diagnosis, it was like a weight was lifted from their shoulders. The resentment went away, the family pulled together, and with the help of donations, they bought the bus, painted it purple for the Alzheimer's Association, and started a journey to visit National Parks across the nation. As they travel, they're raising awareness.
"There's nothing that attracts more attention than a 30-foot purple bus," Elissa said. "As you're driving through all these towns, the best way to get engagement is for people to become curious."
The family has more plans for the journey, both on the road and in their lives. The Grand Canyon is among the places they wish to visit next.
Jeff offered some advice to anyone who might undergo a similar diagnosis.
"Don't wait," he said. "If people are like, we don't know what to do? Get some support right away."
WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas (@JamesRojasWBZ) reports