On a sunny morning on July 29, a group of elected officials, business owners and local figureheads from St. Louis and St. Charles counties gathered at the Daniel Boone Bridge – the literal connector between the two communities – to raise awareness of the ongoing fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
The “Meet in the Middle” event at the Daniel Boone Bridge was the official introduction of the Tom Shaw Foundation and official launch of the Tom Shaw Memorial Walk. For 2021, the event will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.
The inaugural Tom Shaw Memorial Walk will be held in St. Charles County and will jointly celebrate the Katy Trail’s 31st Anniversary as the longest developed rail-trail in the country. John Hammond of the Hammond Institute of Free Enterprises, and R.B. Clark III will serve as chairs of the event.
This year, all proceeds from the walk will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association as part of its Longest Day program.
“Alzheimer’s is a disease that is growing, especially as our older population continues to live longer, which is a good thing, but we need to figure this out,” said Brenda Stewart, chief operations and development officer, Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Missouri Chapter.
The Tom Shaw Foundation was created to honor Tom Shaw Sr., the founder of Chesterfield Area Civic Progress, an organization that sprang up in 1987 and continues today as Progress 64 West promoting the responsible growth of commerce in West St. Louis and St. Charles counties, with particular emphasis on the I-64 corridor from I-270 westward to I-70.
In an October 2012 article in West Newsmagazine, Tom said of Progress 64 West: “The idea was to create some kind of entity that could cross all the boundaries and bring people together on issues that had a broad impact.”
The “Meet in the Middle” event was a goal of Tom’s vision of collaboration between St. Louis County and St. Charles County. However, before it could be realized, Tom developed Alzheimer’s disease and later died at the age of 88 in 2018.
The goal of the foundation is not only to raise awareness for charitable causes but to continue Tom’s vision of uniting St. Louis and St. Charles Counties under common goals.
It was a sentiment shared by many who attended the event, including Tom’s family members and friends.
“There will always be issues that come up where we don’t agree, but once again, I think of the vast majority of issues, St. Charles County and St. Louis County are going to agree, and hopefully, continue to work together in the spirit of Tom Shaw,” St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann said.
Paul Hampel, regional relations manager for the office of St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, agreed.
“Tom Shaw used to say, ‘There’s no invisible wall on the Daniel Boone Bridge.’ Tom was right. The Daniel Boone Bridge is a bridge, and not a wall, and it’s a bridge that County Executive Ehlmann and County Executive Page are always ready and willing to cross for the greater good of the entire community. Tom Shaw would have expected no less.”