Oneonta walk to raise funds for fight against Alzheimer's

·3 min read

Sep. 24—Local residents will walk Sunday, Sept. 26 to raise money to fight Alzheimer's disease, one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

The Walk to End Alzheimer's will be held at Neahwa Park and will begin at 1 p.m. with check in, with the opening ceremony at 2 p.m. a media release said. The walk will begin immediately following the opening ceremony. The walk will exit the park onto Market Street, proceed up Main Street to Grand Street and loop back to the park, Ann Thayer, program manager of Leatherstocking Region of Alzheimer's Association Northeastern New York, said.

According to the media release more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, including 410,000 New Yorkers. More than 11 million family members and friends provide care to people living with Alzheimer's and other dementias.

Thayer said people could register and walk at the event Sunday or register and walk at home or in their neighborhood if they are concerned about COVID-19, by visiting alz.org/walk. She said they will be adhering to CDC guidelines and ask that people who are not vaccinated wear a mask at the event. The organization will have purple masks for anyone who needs one, she said. Purple is the color for Alzheimer's awareness, she said.

This year's Promise Garden will be laid out prior to the event starting and people can pick up the colored pinwheel that corresponds to their experience with Alzheimer's, she said. Blue is for people with Alzheimer's, yellow is for a caregiver of a person with Alzheimer's, purple is for a person who lost someone to Alzheimer's, and white is for the first survivor, she said.

"This is my 16th year doing the walk and I still get tears in my eyes during the Promise Garden ceremony," she said. "It's very moving."

The Promise Garden ceremony is Susan Turner's favorite part of the walk, she said. Turner walks in memory of her father Gordon "Gordo" Daley, who died of Alzheimer's in 2016 after living with the disease for 10 years. Her team, Gordo's Girls, is led by her niece Alicia Scanlon, who is Daley's granddaughter, Turner said.

Their team holds bake sales periodically beginning in January to fund raise for the team, she said.

"We always promote the walk at all the events we have," Turner said. "Nobody knows when the next person will be affected by this. Now that it can be diagnosed earlier it's important to get checked."

Turner said her step-daughter was recently diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's and it has prompted her to fight harder against the disease so there can be a first survivor of the disease.

"I would love to not have anyone else go through what I've gone through," Turner said.

The Leatherstocking Region of Alzheimer's Association Northeastern New York covers Otsego, Delaware and Schoharie counties, Thayer said. Anyone in those counties who has Alzheimer's or other dementias, cares for someone with Alzheimer's or other dementias or wants to learn more about the disease can contact her at 607-282-3035 for information about support groups, educational materials and more.

"The hardest part of my job is when I meet a family who lost a loved one to Alzheimer's and they didn't know we were here to help," Thayer said.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_VickyK on Twitter.

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