With last Saturday’s beautiful weather and over 160 people in attendance, the 2012 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at the Vernon Woods Retirement Community was an enjoyable and successful fundraiser.
The event was well organized with music, dignitaries, refreshments and lots of volunteers to help organize the walkers, sell, t-shirts, chances for door prizes, and wristbands. There was also an entire table set up that had an abundant array of information on Alzheimer’s disease.
Walkers had signed up to take part in the day’s event as either a member of a particular team or as an individual. Twenty-two different teams from a variety of organizations were present. After all of the walkers had registered and had time to join their team members, Linda Mason Barber, the Troup County’s walk committee chairperson, took the microphone and gave the day’s introduction.
Barber welcomed everyone and specifically thanked the 12 individual sponsors, the committee members and the volunteers of the event. Barber then introduced the Chairman of Troup County Board of Commissioners, Ricky Wolfe.
Commissioner Wolfe welcomed everyone on the behalf of Troup County and the City of LaGrange and discussed how important it is to support Alzheimer’s programs and funding.
Wolfe praised the efforts of the participants of the event and ended with, “Thank god almighty for people who do not have the disease but are doing what they can to find a cure for it.”
Amanda Hughes, program director of Alzheimer’s Association, also thanked everyone and then explained how the funds from the 2012 Walk to End Alzheimer’s were going to be used.
“The money that is raised today is going to be put back into the community to coordinate programs and services for both families and caregivers, and educational programs for professionals,” said Hughes. ” Education is needed to learn what Alzheimer’s is and how to communicate effectively with your loved one, your family and friends, to help make the journey easier,” she said.
Dr. Jones Miller gave an account of how Alzheimer’s has directly affected him and his family. Dr. Miller’s mother took care of his father, an Alzheimer’s victim, until he had passed away from further complications. Miller and his wife were the caregivers for her mother who also had Alzheimer’s and now for the past three years the family is also helping his mother who has the disease. After recounting his own direct experiences, Miller gave a more global view of the disease and pointed out differences between wealthier and poorer countries.
“In poor countries the burden of care giving falls almost exclusively on the families, where in high income countries 58 percent of people with dementia live in nursing homes and long term care facilities,” stated Miller. Miller then gave statistics that clearly showed that in the next 15-18 years the occurrence of Alzheimer’s is going to drastically increase.
Miller ended his remarks with, “As you can see, as we, the baby boomers, age more and more of us are going to be developing this disease, so we certainly need to increase awareness and increase the funding for research to look for a cure.”
After a heartfelt song by Pat Gosdin, a blessing by Rosemary Smith and Vernon Woods’ fitness instructor, Dottie Fonte had all of the participants warm up with a few exercises, the walk was officially started. Depending on their fitness level walkers either took a one mile or two mile loop around the Vernon Woods’ grounds.
The event was ended with the winners of the door prizes being announced, food and drinks being available, and the moment that all were waiting for, the announcement of the raised funds from the day’s events.
Doris Reid, from the Alzheimer’s Association announced that to that point, the funds had reached 17, 500 dollars, and there were still a bit more to come. As well as all of the event’s participants, Chairperson Barber was delighted that the event had been so successful.
“This has been a fantastic event. This year we had an increase in the number of teams and walkers, we surpassed last year’s total of money raised, and thanks to everyone’s hard work and commitment, we even surpassed the goal that we had set for ourselves this year,” said Barber.
For information on future walks the Alzheimer’s Association is sponsoring or for general information concerning Alzheimer’s, contact the agency at www.alz.org/georgia.
The local Alzheimer’s support group is held at Vernon Woods Assisted Living, at 5:30 p.m., the second Tuesday of each month. For further information contact Michelle Smith at 706-812-2899 or email at SmithMi@WGHealth.org.