More than 400 people are expected to participate in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday in Perry.
The walk, according to Amy Johnston, director of Marketing and Communication for The Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter, will have participants from Warner Robins, Macon, Milledgeville, Eatonton, Fort Valley and surrounding areas and will take place at The Retreat at Southern Bridle Farms, 125 S. Langston Circle in Perry. There are no registration fees, according to Johnston, but participants are asked to raise money. So far there are 79 teams registered for the Perry event.
In addition to the walk, the Grapevine will be performing from 6-9 p.m. as a tribute to people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“We have a fundraiser goal of $180,000,” said Johnston, adding that the teams have already raised more than $100,000.
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Duchess Hunter, who lives in Perry and is the co-chairman of the 2015 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Perry, knows all too well the devastating consequences of this disease. Her mother, Ellen Blanton, 72, who lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was diagnosed with the onset of Alzheimer’s in 2012.
Hunter said that prior to the onset of Alzheimer’s, her mother had been very stylish and fashionable. However, one of the first signs that Hunter and her family noticed about her mother was that her clothes were no longer matching, and she didn’t seem to care if they looked correct or were put on right. She said sometimes her mother would even put her shirt on backwards, and when she was still able to drive, she would get out of the car and would leave it running.
“What really led us to take her to the doctor ... she started hallucinating,” said Hunter, adding that her mother was scared to go into a room because she thought a lot of people were in there, but in reality, no one was in the room. “We really knew something was wrong.”
Eventually, Hunter said she and her family found a wonderful nursing home for her mother. Hunter said her mother had became a “runner,” where numerous times throughout the night she would just run away, possibly because she felt people were in the house, and they would have to go find her. None of her family lived nearby, and at the time her dad was losing his ability to walk. The family tried to have people come to the house to help their mother, but she went through a violent stage and would attack the help.
Now, Hunter said her sisters do an “awesome job” of Facetime with her so that she can talk to her mom.
“For the most part, she does know who I am ... we still go through the phases of I don’t know who is talking to me on the phone,” said Hunter, adding that even when visiting her mother, her mom recognizes certain family members automatically and others it takes her a while.
Last year, Hunter got involved with The Walk to End Alzheimer’s and decided to raise money with a team. She added several Alpha Kappa Alpha sisters and friends, and together they raised $500 in two months. This year, however, Hunter said she wanted to double the amount to $1,000. To date, her team has already raised $1,500 and is still raising money. The name of her team is “I will remember 4 U” in honor of her mother.
In addition to the walk, Hunter said her team is holding a fundraiser, which will be a spin class on Oct. 11 from 3-5 p.m. at Edge Fitness on Houston Lake Road in Warner Robins. The cost is $10 per person. For more information about that event, call 478-361-4521
To start or join a team today for the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s, visit georgiawalk.org. Registration is at 5 p.m., and the walk and ceremony starts at 6 p.m., according to the website.