By LOIS KINDLE
It’s no surprise many of us know someone who has Alzheimer’s or is directly impacted by this most-feared disease. And while there is currently no cure, we can all play a part in bringing the day closer when there is one.
On Saturday, Oct. 19, the 14th annual South Shore Walk to End Alzheimer’s will take place, and you can take part in one-of-four ways.
You can register a team, with as little as one person; join an existing team; come out to take part in the festivities or donate directly to the American Alzheimer’s Association, the event’s beneficiary.
“It’s a day of celebration and hope for those living with the disease and everyone affected by it,” said the walk’s co-organizer, Connie Lesko. “Everyone supports the walk for different reasons: some who are caregivers, some who are simply advocates, some who’ve lost a friend or loved one to the disease and others who are currently living with it. We’re all united by the goal of one day finding a cure.”
Team and individual registrations are underway now through the day of the walk at https://bit.ly/2mFjPSR or available at 8 a.m. on event day at the Sun City Center United Methodist Church, 1210 Del Webb Blvd. W. After a brief kickoff, the walk will start at 9. The 2-mile loop begins and ends at the church, and there’s a bus at the half-way point for anyone who needs or wants to return early.
During a short after-ceremony, awards will be presented to the highest fundraisers, and the total amount of money raised for the walk will be revealed.
Last year’s top teams were Freedom Plaza, Methodists on the Move and Aston Gardens, and more than $42,000 was raised. The goal this year is to bring in even more.
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 sixth leading cause of death in the country. This neurodegenerative disease causes not only gradual memory loss but also the loss of physical activities like walking, eating and breathing. More than 5 million Americans currently live with the disease.
According to the association’s research, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds, and this year, it and other forms of dementia will cost the nation $290 billion. By 2050, that figure could rise to as much as $1.1 trillion.
“Seeing a community come together for one cause is truly inspiring,” said Kristine Lee, director of the walk for the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “You can feel the sense of family as everyone walks ultimately to find the First Survivor.
“The money raised by each walker goes to fund groundbreaking research, provide care and support to all those affected,” she continued. “Their dollars also allow us to advocate on a state and federal level to advance and develop policies to overcome Alzheimer’s disease through increased investment in research, enhanced care and improved support.”
Sandy Marshall’s husband, Bobby, a 60-year-old teacher at Lennard High School, has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and frontal temporal dementia (FTD).
Every year for the past five years, they’ve participated in the South Shore Walk to End Alzheimer’s, first in support of a relative and now to support Bobby. Their team of students and friends, Marshall’s Crew, will be among this year’s crowd, and for good reason.
“It’s important to get tested early and be proactive,” she said. “It’s also important to support caregivers to keep them positive and motivated.”
For more information, call Lesko at 813-927-1147 or Lee at 727-316-8341.