Sign up now to partipate in Walk to End Alzheimer’s

By KEVIN BRADY

connie lesko photos Members of the SouthShore Kiwanis Club had a team in last year’s walk.

Members of the SouthShore Kiwanis Club had a team in last year’s walk. Connie Lesko photos.

Hundreds of South Shore residents are expected to take to the streets for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
Now in its seventh year, last year’s walk drew more than 700 locals and raised almost $75,000. The first walk raised $20,000.

“My personal goal is always $1 more than we raised last year,” said Connie Lesko, community relations director at Inspired Living at Sun City Center, who has chaired the event since it started. “Our walk is a grassroots effort and successful because of the many small donations we receive. I am excited about every $10 donation. It’s really the people who live in Sun City Center and the surrounding communties who come out.”

The event is set for Saturday, Oct. 17, at 10 a.m. The two-mile walk begins at Sun City Center United Methodist Church, 1210 W. Del Webb Blvd. Participants then walk north on Del Webb Boulevard to the Freedom Plaza nature trail. For those who prefer, a bus at the one-mile mark is available for the return leg of the event, which will also include vendor tables.

“Although the actual walk is in Sun City Center, it is truly a South Shore walk, and we would not be successful without surrounding communities,” Lesko said.

Like many who join in the day’s festivities, the event is a family affair for Lesko. “My family walks in memory of my parents and my mother-in-law. It is difficult to find a family who has not been touched [by the disease] in some way.”

Lesko said she is glad there is finally a national discussion taking place on Alzheimer’s, an umbrella term for many different types of dementia.

“I am honored to be an advocate for those with Alzheimer’s — men and women who no longer have a voice,” said Lesko. “I am also pleased that finally, there is a national discussion about this devastating disease, and people are stepping up to raise awareness and money.”

So widespread is dementia, there are few families it has not touched.

Residents of Freedom Plaza were prepared with a cheer at last year’s walk.

Residents of Freedom Plaza were prepared with a cheer at last year’s walk.

“It’s unbelieveable how many people it has touched: grandparents, parents, sisters and brothers. It is a disease that steals the mind, personality and independence of an individual but the body remains,” said Lesko. “Not only is the person not capable of making good decisions but the person sometimes can’t walk or even talk. A caregiver must meet all of their needs and provide safety, sometimes for many years. It’s devastating to a family.”

There is no minimum amount to be raised per team. Nor is there a minimum number of people per team.

Organizers are encouraging anyone interested in walking, volunteering or just joining the festivities to register online and use their network to raise funds by using the tools on the website or posting on their Facebook page.

For more information on the event, call Connie Lesko 813-927-1147 or visit act.alz.org/SouthShoreArea

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ABOUT THE WALK
The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, the event draws participants of all ages in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease, the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. “It is the only disease in the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed,” Lesko said.

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