It was cold, with the occasional raindrop falling. The Packers were just starting to wake after letting Carolina jump to a 13-0 lead. There were plenty of reasons to stay inside Sunday afternoon, but for 165 people who came out for the ninth annual Grant County Memory Walk, there were very important reasons to venture outdoors - to help the families of the estimated 1,200 people who live in the county suffering from the effects of Alzheimers disease and dementia, raising more than $24,000 for the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin.
Johnny’s Walkers won the trophy for the largest team, with 26 members holding pictures of who they were walking for, and raised the most money ($6,192). Individual fundraising awards went to Linda Groeschel, Rosie Errthum, Carol Beals, Sandy Hauth and Nancy Nelson.
Beals, team captain of the No Way Mom Team and honorary family chair, was a caregiver for her late mother Gladys Shockley. Gladys, who had Alzheimer’s disease, had two favorite sayings: “big time” and “no way”. “We’re raising funds and awareness ‘big time,” commented Carol.
Principle sponsors included ElderSpan Management and Grant Regional Health Center, with numerous other local businesses and organizations providing sponsorships or other donations.
Part of the funds go for an outreach specialist position was created for Grant and Richland counties. That specialist works out of the Aging and Disability Resource Center in Lancaster. Also, over the past four years there has been a specialist’s hotline and individual care consultation, as well as hosting support groups, and programs for health fairs, community education and for law enforcement. Some of the duties the specialist has picked up is to launch support group sessions in communities across the county, such as a one launched last year in Lancaster.
“The support we receive from the community is phenomenal,” said Paul Rusk, Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance executive director. “People came to raise awareness for this challenging disease and to ensure that people have access to our services so they can create the best possible quality of life for everyone involved.”
The alliance is also helping direct individuals to the new Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center designation given to UW-Madison Alzheimer’s research program, which started in May 2010. Designated by the National Institute of Health, the program is only one of 17 given across the country, and will spend the next five years researching new treatment strategies, investigate the processes in the brain, and trying to find effective prevention strategies.
“There is no other organization that has a pipeline for sharing information on research,” said Becky DeBuhr, the current outreach specialist who covers Grant and Richland counties.
DeBuhr pointed out that information services are going to be in more and more demand since approximately 70 percent of those diagnosed with some form of dementia are taken care of by either their spouse or an adult child. Helping those caregivers as the disease progresses creates a greater workload, and makes sure the caregiver is also not a victim because of caring for their loved one.
Donations for the Walk will be accepted throughout the fall. For more information on Alzheimer’s disease, resources to help or to arrange an individual consultation, please call Becky DeBuhr in the Lancaster office at 608.723.4288 or 888.308.6251 or visit their website at www.alzwisc.org.