Teams forming now for South Shore Walk to End Alzheimer’s

MITCH TRAPHAGEN FILE PHOTO

By LOIS KINDLE

Participating in the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s could ultimately save many lives, perhaps even your own. According to Alzheimer’s Association statistics, more than 5 million Americans are currently living with the progressive, degenerative, always-fatal disease, and as many as 16 million will have it in 2050.

“I lost both my mother and grandmother to Alzheimer’s, which means I’m at risk genetically,” said Kings Point resident Dana Schroeder. “That why I walk every year.

“But it’s important for people to realize there are more causes than genetics,” she added.

“The next person diagnosed could be you.”

That’s true, said Connie Lesko, founder of the South Shore Walk and its organizer for 11 years.

“If you are blessed enough to not have a friend or family member touched by this disease, the odds are great that you will,” she said.

Alzheimer’s Association research shows one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia annually, and every 66 seconds someone in this country develops the disease. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and the only one of the top 10 causes of death that’s not preventable, and it can’t be slowed down or cured. A staggering number of Americans, more than 5 million, presently live with the disease.

ALZHEIMERS ASSOCIATION PHOTO
Representatives from the Freedom Plaza Walk to End Alzheimer’s corporate team accept last year’s award for raising the most money collected by a corporation. From left are Brandi Schwatka, Connie Lesko and Martha Alanis.

The South Shore Walk to End Alzheimer’s will take place Oct. 14 at the United Methodist Church of Sun City Center, 1210 Del Webb Blvd. W. Registration begins at 8 a.m., to be followed by a ceremony at 9. The two-mile walk is a loop that begins and ends at the church, and there’s a bus available at the half-way point for anyone needing or wanting to return early. Awards will go to the team that raises the most money and the one with the most spirit.

Last year’s walk included 69 teams and 524 participants who raised $84,400. This year’s goal is 83 teams, 630 walkers and $101,400.

Forty teams have registered thus far.

“My goal is always to raise $1 more every year,” said Lesko, who lost both parents to Alzheimer’s. “This walk is for people of all ages, regardless of where they live. A team can be made up of one individual, a family, a neighborhood or a business group. There’s no minimum amount that must be raised.

“And you don’t have to walk to be a team member,” she added. “You simply need to make a donation of  any amount.”

MITCH TRAPHAGEN FILE PHOTO

The South Shore Walk to End Alzheimer’s is part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s national effort to find a preventative, treatment and  cure for the neurodegenerative disease, which not only causes gradual memory loss, but also the loss of physical activities like walking, eating and breathing. Association research shows that  Alzheimer’s currently costs the nation $259 billion and could cost as much as $1.1 trillion by 2050.

“That’s why everyone’s support is so sorely needed,” Lesko said. “And every dollar we raise in the South Shore Walk benefits those affected by Alzheimer’s in this community.”

If you’d like to form a team, be part of someone else’s team or simply make a tax-deductible donation, call Lesko at 813-927-1147 or visit act.alz.org/southshorearea.

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