Skip Casey Korson was a journalist, a lover of the arts and a world traveler through her early 80s.
The former Telegraph reporter, whose bylines had appeared in this paper since 1974, became a columnist in the early 2000s, writing about everything from traveling, her grandchildren and fun things to do in Middle Georgia.
A few months before her 82nd birthday in 2005, Korson bid her readers farewell.
“This hard-to-reach decision to leave the paper does not mean I won't be at my desk here at home most days,” Korson wrote about four years before her death. “I plan to write a book about my all my adventures.”
Korson’s daughter said she knew something wasn’t right with her mom when Korson began to lose interest in things she’d once enjoyed.
“She was very involved with going to the symphony and going to the plays in Macon and Warner Robins and all the arts,” Emily Bowden said. “When she stopped going … I knew something was wrong.”
Korson was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
“It robbed her of everything she loved,” said Bowden, who’d represented a pharmaceutical company before 2014, when she started working at the Alzheimer’s Association on Mulberry Street.
The brain disease that affects memory “takes that person away from you twice,” Bowden said.
Many days during her mother’s illness, 55-year-old Bowden said she would be too emotionally drained to go to work.
Caring for her mother alone, Bowden sought help from the Alzheimer’s Association, a national nonprofit with five Georgia offices that offer free services and support for families affected by the disease.
“I went to caregiver classes to learn about the disease and how to help my mom,” Bowden said. “I went to support groups … and learned about how can I deal with this situation, because they’d already gone through this.”
Bowden was diagnosed with breast cancer during her mother’s illness. Korson died in 2009 due to a brain bleed.
Currently, about 21,000 people living in a 26-county area served by the midstate Alzheimer’s office are diagnosed with the disease, Bowden said.
Statewide, about 130,000 are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, a number that’s expected to grow 46 percent during the next decade. They are cared for by about 513,000 caregivers, often family members, Bowden said.
“That’s the biggest problem with this disease is that there are so many caregivers,” Bowden said. “It’s just so incredibly stressful on the caregivers. … So many caregivers run out of money (because) it’s so expensive to take care of someone with Alzheimer’s.”
On Saturday, hundreds are expected at the Walk To End Alzheimer’s in Perry. The walk to raise awareness doubles as a fundraiser for the association, which aims to raise $225,000 by Nov. 30, Bowden said. About 50 percent of that already had been raised by Friday.
“The money stays in Georgia, and it goes back to the care, support and research to find a cure,” Bowden said.
Participants will dress in purple — the color used to represent the cause — for the 1 mile walk at The Retreat of Southern Bridle Farms in Perry beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Bowden said it’s amazing to see the purple sea of people “all smiling, trying to have a good time even though we know — especially if they’ve lost someone — they’re hurting, and it is sad,” she said. “But, we are trying to make the best of this situation. We are trying to thank everybody for every dollar that they have raised to help us find a cure. It means so much.”
If you go ...
What: The Walk to End Alzheimer’s
Where: The Retreat of Southern Bridle Farms, 125 S. Langston Circle, Perry
When: Registration at 5 p.m.; candlelight ceremony at 6 p.m.; walk at 6:30 p.m.
Cost: There is no registration fee for walking; however, every walker is asked to make a personal donation and commit to raising money to fight Alzheimer’s disease.