Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — MEDINA — Pledging to take steps in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and helping all those effected by dementia diseases, more than 150 people took part in a canal walk Saturday in Medina.
The Medina Walk to End Alzheimer’s, along with an event at the Chautauqa Institute, kicked off the Alzheimer’s Association of Western New York’s walk season. The large crowd made their way around the village before returning for pizza, fundraising auctions and the supporting arms of their community.
Those who walked at the Medina event came for different reasons. Some have a memory-stealing disease, or are caring for a loved one. Others just wanted to lend a voice of support. Their reasons were signified in a Promise Garden of pinwheel flowers that filled the canalside park.
There were also those who come in memory of a loved one lost to the mental mists caused by Alzheimer’s years before their lives end. Mary Schaal, part of one of the largest teams at the event — the Mac Pack — remembered her mother Ruth, who had participated in the walk last year and passed away in August after a short stay at Orchard Manor.
“I’m not sure she realized that she had Alzheimer’s,” Schaal said. “But she understood what we were doing was for a good cause ... she’s with us in spirit, continuing to motivate us to do what’s right.”
As much as events like Saturday’s walk are about fundraising for local support and treatment programs and advancing medical research, they function much more as a comforting gathering of a community that knows the difficulties that families afflicted by Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases face.
“I’m always amazed by what folks do for the people in their families with Alzheimer’s,” Bill Gillick, a member of the Alzheimer Association of WNY’s board and the administrator at The Villages of Orleans, which itself has a 30-bed memory wing. “Spouses and children do so much to take care of them.”
With their steps, the walkers supported what Alzheimer’s Association of WNY Board Chairman Eric Weidemann said are more than 5 million people living with the disease.
“The road ahead may be uncertain, but these diagnoses do not silence our voices,” Weidemann said.
And they furthered the dream that one day Alzheimer’s can be beat.
“There is a cure, but it will take research and resources to find it,” State Sen. George Maziarz said. “Today, we are providing those resources.”
The Alzheimer’s Association of Western New York has scheduled additional walks for Sept. 22 in Buffalo’s Delaware Park and Sept. 29 at Artpark in Lewiston and in Batavia at the Genesee County Nursing Home. For more information, visit http://tinyurl.com/8jlk38m.Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 716-798-1400, ext. 6327.