Pat Summitt flowers donated

Random Acts of Flowers partnered with Alzheimer’s Tennessee to repurpose the flowers from the Pat Summitt “Celebration of Life.” Volunteers picked up the flowers from Thompson-Boling Arena, deconstructed the arrangements and created 372 bouquets that were delivered to Alzheimer’s and memory care patients in East Tennessee.

Executive Director for Random Acts of Flowers Knoxville branch, Jennifer Sheehan, says it is a great opportunity to brighten the day of someone else.

“We are humbled and honored that we are able to take her flowers and mix them with other flowers to create some beautiful bouquets that will serve close to 300 folks,” Sheehan says.

Sheehan’s father went through Alzheimer’s and she says many of his friends were not sure how to act around him, creating a lonely time for their family.

“For those who receive flowers,” Sheehan says, “even if they don’t understand quite the meaning of it, for their caregivers and their family, for them they realize they haven’t been forgotten. This disease robs you of your dignity, it robs you of your friends and family. So I hope they realize that they live in a community that cares about them and wants to be apart of their treatment.”

Weekly volunteer, Bettie Kurtz no longer has a flower garden of her own so having a place to get her hands dirty is special and a time to enjoy her passion for arranging flowers.

“To me, this is about the best use of flowers I can think of,” Kurtz says. “Flowers bring beauty everywhere they go so this means another opportunity to share flowers, to have them last longer, to provide joy on more than one occasion and more than one level.”

Kurtz was one of 70 volunteers who have a heart for other people and enjoy seeing a smile on the faces of the recipients.

“It’s a gift,” Kurtz says. “A real gift because if you’re caring for an Alzheimer’s patient, you don’t have time to make bouquets and flowers and if someone brings one, it’s like having a gift for yourself. It’s a real joy.”

A group of 47 volunteers from the University of Tennessee also rolled up their sleeves and assisted Random Acts of Flowers with the deconstruction and recreation of arrangements. Taylor Thomas, Coordinator of Student Affairs in the Undergraduate Admissions Office says it was a special day to help continue to celebration of Pat Summitt’s life.

“Who better to prepare those than her volunteer family? So we are excited about that,” Taylor says.

The new arrangements were delivered to five locations in East Tennessee. One neighbor of Pat Summitt received a knock on the door and flowers from her friend’s celebration. Geraldine Watson ate, visited, joked and arm wrestled with Pat Summitt and has nothing but fond memories of her.

“When I would get up sometimes in the morning,” Watson says, “I’d go out on my porch and there would be one or two flowers in a vase and some little something that would say from her caregiver and Pat and a heart. That’s something nobody will ever take away from me.”

Her brother lives with Alzheimer’s disease and Watson says Summitt’s battle was near to her heart. That is why the flowers brought to her door were special.

“There’s no comparison to getting this bouquet of flowers because I know they were at Pat’s service last night,” Watson says. “I’m so thrilled and so proud that I could say I knew Pat Summitt and she’ll always be with me, she will always be in my heart.”