Early Alzheimer’s Patient Inspires Through Paddling

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An inspirational story now about how a local woman is responding to the news that she is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dr. Cynthia Huling Hummel, a former pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Waverly, has put together a bucket list that includes learning to paddle and kayak.

She contacted Jim Pfiffer, Executive Director of The Chemung River Friends who gave her a paddling lesson and Tuesday evening helped her launch what she hopes turns into a paddling club.

Cynthia told us she received her diagnosis in January and the doctor suggested she stay as active as she possibly can. 

Hummel said, “So I swim and I kayak and I run and I do different things to stay active. I take classes at Elmira College but I especially wanted to step up on the exercise. I love being on that water and we have such a wonderful abundance of places to be out on the water.”

Cynthia says her paddling group is a great way to stay socially active, develop friends and keep intellectually engaged to slow down the progression of her Alzheimer’s Disease.

To get things started she reached out to Pfiffer who recalls their first conversation.

“Her motto is not why me but what’s next,” Pfiffer said. “I’ll make a bucket list and on the bucket list I want to learn to paddle. She loved it. Fell in love with it and said I want other people to come and do this. I want to show people with Alzheimer’s the disease doesn’t mean it’s the end of your life. You can still continue to have a good time.”

Tuesday night’s first session of Cynthia’s beginners paddle club took place at the Grove Street boat launch in Elmira.

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