Alzheimers walk never forgets its purpose |

Alzheimers walk never forgets its purpose

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Carl Griggs sits with Neva Dirks on the Capitol grounds after the 2nd Annual Memory Walk on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2004, in Carson CIty, Nev. Dirks is a friend of Grigg's wife Edith, who has Alzherimer's and lives in Gardnerville, Nev. The walk raises awareness and money for the disease. l

Nearly 300 people braved a brisk Sunday morning for the second annual Capital City Alzheimer’s Memory Walk.

The trek took the dedicated walkers on a mile-long journey from the steps of the Capitol through downtown Carson City’s historic neighborhoods and back.

This year’s Walk was dedicated to Rita Oviatt, a woman who is one of among the 10,000 Northern Nevadans fighting their own personal battles with Alzheimer’s.

Oviatt spoke softly into the microphone, thanking everyone for coming out.

Emcee Tom Baker stressed the impact the disease has on Nevada.

“With the Baby-Boomer population aging, Alzheimer’s patients could double in the next 20-30 years,” he said. “We need money for research. We want our seniors to be able to enjoy the years they’ve earned and deserve.”

Two dozen uniformed Naval Sea Cadets stood at attention as Mayor Masayko led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Four-year-old Patrick Elliot and his father Patrick were among the throngs of walkers.

“We try to get involved with positive activities,” said the father. “I work with a lot of Alzheimer’s patients at …”

“Merrill Gardens!” said his son.

“Yeah,” he repeated, smiling at his son with an uncommon pride in his eyes. “Merrill Gardens.”

Volunteer Jon Shambaugh drove a silver Honda CRV that had been converted for the parade into a “Sore Tootsies Express.” At the halfway point there were no riders as everyone walking seemed to know what was on the line.

On a lot of minds was the debate on stem cell research.

Emcee Tom Baker said he’d rather the stem cell debate not get into the political debate.

“It’s all about getting money into programs. If it gets into the realm of politics, there’s the risk the whole issue will be forgotten after the elections.”

Double stroke victim and Alzheimer’s-rights marchers Connie and Toby Marquez disagree.

“If we get Mr. Kerry in we will have stem cell research,” said wheelchair bound Mrs. Marquez, who while recovering from a stroke spent a lot of time in places with Alzheimer’s patients where she watched how they were treated by both medical staff and family members alike.

“It’s very eye-opening,” she said. “Very humbling, watching many of the people deteriorate, with no family to visit them or even willing to visit them. It’s a shame,” she said. “Some people actually drop their parents off at the nearest faculty and forget about them. It’s disgusting!”

“If we get Mr. Kerry in, we’ll get stem research. Not so if Bush gets re-elected.”

A silent auction included prizes donated by the Comstock Casino, Albertsons, and Bully’s Sports Bar among others raised money for patients with Alzheimers.

Participants who finished the walk were rewarded with hot dogs, drinks, a goodie bag featuring health information and free samples of products, plus music by Northern Nevada Bluegrass, who played a song about Alzheimer’s.

The top fundraiser team was represented by Karen Easton who raised $2,500. Tied for second was Gardnerville Senior Center and Southwest Gas.

Dan Helms was the largest individual donor who added $500 to the cause.

The foundation raised about three-quarters of their $20,000 goal.

But no amount of money can compare to losing a loved one to the degenerative disease.