Alzheimer's Memory Walk set Sept. 11

Thursday, August 18, 2005

By DAWN CRIBBS

Associate Editor

A late summer Sunday afternoon at Norris Park is the setting for the 2005 Memory Walk "Taking Steps to End Alzheimer's" in support of those suffering the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's disease and those who care for them.

The walk is set for Grandparents' Day, Sunday, Sept. 11, with registration beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Teams are forming now at 14 sponsoring businesses and individuals are encouraged to get involved in the ongoing battle. A representative of each team will also be called upon to play a round of croquet in park, with that competition scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. The 1.2 mile walk begins at 2 p.m., and will travel north on Norris to O Street, east to the west edge of Kelley Park, then returning to Norris Park via East First. The route will be marked with purple and white balloons. Door prizes will be awarded after the walk.

The benefits of research continue to unfold with 95 percent of what is known about Alzheimer's having been discovered in the past 15 years.

For instance, research has revealed that some of the same symptoms of heart disease and diabetes may also be early warning signs of Alzheimer's. Therefore the medical community is recommending both physical and mental exercises as a means to forestall if not prevent the onset of the degenerative disease that steals a lifetime of memories.

"If you pour orange juice with your right hand, try pouring it with your left," said Jennie Boyd, offering an example of a mental exercise that may help the brain keep learning.

Boyd, local event organizer, is well acquainted with Alzheimer's and its insidious theft of personality and memory. Her late husband, Tim, was afflicted with early onset Alzheimer's and succumbed to the disease at age 55.

"Diet and exercise make a difference," Boyd stressed. "Get out in the garden. Go window shopping. Keep active."

There is good news on the pharmaceutical front as well, with five FDA approved drugs added to the arsenal and several promising compounds coming.

"These drugs help to slow the progression of the disease," said Boyd. "It is so encouraging to see progress."

The importance of research cannot be overstated, Boyd explained, but also of vital importance is support and education for those suffering from Alzheimer's and those who care for them.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, 85 percent of the funds raised in this area stay here for respite services, lending libraries, speakers, films and information on the Safe Return Program, while 15 percent goes to research.

The Memory Walk raises awareness as well. Alzheimer's affects 4.5 million Americans with projections setting that number at 11.3-16 million by the year 2050. Nearly 50 percent of Americans over 85 are afflicted. Annual direct and indirect costs of caring for individuals with Alzheimer's are nearly $100 billion nationwide. The Memory Walk is the Alzheimer's Association's signature event nationwide and has raised more than $175 million since 1989. Memory Walks take place in more than 600 communities, typically occurring in September and October.

There are two support groups meeting regularly in McCook. The Early Stage Alzheimer's Support Group meets on the second Saturday of each month, 10:30 a.m.-noon, in the community room at Missouri Avenue Circle. For more information, contact Marge Grimm, 345-5041.

The support group for caregivers and family members of those suffering from Alzheimer's meets on the third Saturday of each month, 10 a.m., at McCook National Bank. For more information contact Norma Whisler, 345-5584.

Walkers are encouraged to visit a sponsoring business and pick up a registration form. Teams of three or more can be formed, however, individual walkers are encouraged to participate as well. Prizes are awarded based on the amount of money raised with T-shirts available the day of the walk and other premiums ordered that day.

$50long sleeved T-shirt
$250T-shirt and tote bag
$500T-shirt, tote bag and sweatshirt
$750T-shirt, tote bag, sweatshirt and denim skirt
$1,000T-shirt, tote bag, sweatshirt, denim skirt and fleece jacket.

Individual raising $1,000 or more will have their name entered into a drawing for two roundtrip airline tickets from Southwest Airlines, with each additional $500 adding your name again.

Area sponsors are: BSB Construction, Curtis; Sunset Haven Nursing Home, Curtis; Heritage of Wauneta Nursing Home, Wauneta; Hillcrest Nursing Home, McCook; First Central Bank, McCook; AmFirst Bank, McCook; McCook National Bank, McCook; McCook Daily Gazette; KICX 96.1 FM, McCook; McCook Pharmacy and Medical Supply, McCook; Farrell's Pharmacy, McCook; Community Hospital of McCook; Dave's U Save Pharmacy, McCook; and Willow Ridge, McCook.

Statewide sponsors are TierOne Bank, The Landing at Williamsburg Village, HPC Foundation for Hospice Care, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, KOLN/KGIN, ScreenCo. and Community Health Charities. National sponsors are Creative Memories and Genworth Financial.

For more information or for a registration packet, contact Jennie Boyd at 345-2533.

"A couple of hours of commitment can do a world of good," said Boyd.

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