Ending Alzheimer's - one step at a time

By Rhonda Costa

Appeal Staff Writer

Organizers of Saturday's sixth annual Capital City Memory Walk have a goal of raising $30,000.

"We need people to support the Memory Walk," said Jenny Haas, committee member and active volunteer, who said only $9,700 has been dedicated so far.

"It's an awareness thing," said Jenny Haas. "We don't have Jerry Lewis doing a telethon. We don't have a poster child.

"Alzheimer's is not the funny senior memory problem - it's fatal, and it's ugly. There are no survivors."

The community is asked to participate in the annual walk, which offers two routes this year. The first is a short route on the Capitol grounds, the second will leave the Capitol, head north on Carson Street to the Carson Nugget, go west to the Governor's Mansion, south to Fritsch Elementary School, then east to return to the Capitol.

There is no charge to walk, the group is simply asking for donations. In addition, a quilt raffle is offered, raffles for prizes and a silent auction. A tribute flag will also be available for donation. Each walker is encouraged to raise a minimum of $100, with that each walker will receive a free T-shirt. Other prizes are available for walkers who raise additional money.

"The tribute flag is like a Tibetan prayer flag," Haas explained. "We will be sounding a gong and reading names on the flags. It's pretty powerful."

Haas is a speaker at the event this year. Her father, Gene Anderson, who lived in Carson City for 30 years, died from Alzheimer's disease in 2006. This year's walk is dedicated to him.

Donations go to the Alzheimer's Association of Northern Nevada. Proceeds are used for research and services, such as to create a 24/7 phone support system.

"There's also a 'safe return' bracelet," Haas said.

The bracelet identifies the person as an Alzheimer's patient, helping in their recovery should they become lost or disoriented.

Haas said every 71 seconds in the U.S. someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's and it is estimated 5 million Americans are living with the disease, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. In order to better help Alzheimer's patients, Haas said, more government funding is needed as is awareness to the true devastation the disease brings not only to the patients, but their family.

"It's a step-child disease, a modern-day leprosy," she said. "We could use some help from the public. If people would reach into their pocket and donate just $1, we would so be there."

The Alzheimer's Association, the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research, is dedicated to finding prevention methods, treatments and an eventual cure for Alzheimer's. The Memory Walk is the nation's largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer care, support and research.

Since 1989, the Memory Walk has raised more than $230 million, and calls on volunteers of all ages to become champions in the fight against the fatal disease.

• Contact Rhonda Costa at rcosta@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.

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