A walk to remember
A slight chill in the morning air may have accompanied Glenwood Springs’ first Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk on Saturday, but there was warmth in the smiles of the 50-60 participants. Many came to Two Rivers Park to honor loved ones, whom they recalled with bittersweet memories, while others were Alzheimer’s patients.
Three generations of one family affected by Alzheimer’s disease came to celebrate the life of a mother and grandmother who passed away nearly 20 years ago. Lisa Pierce of Silt, her 3-week-old daughter, Emma, and her mother, Pat Munger of Grand Maris, Mich., all attended to support the cause. “I’m visiting for the birth of my granddaughter and I read about the Memory Walk in the paper. I woke up this morning and told my daughter to get ready,” said Munger, a team leader for the Memory Walk in Michigan. “My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when it was one of the first cases I had ever heard of. She was only 67 when she died.” Volunteer Bonnie Snyder of Silt offered her time to help with food and refreshments in memory of her husband of 60 years, Nelson “Bud” Snyder, who died Aug. 8 from Alzheimer’s disease. Although she only attended three support group meetings before Bud’s death, Snyder is thankful that the Alzheimer’s Association offers such community programming.
“The people there know what you’re going through,” she said. “Friends and family can be sympathetic, but they just don’t understand unless they’ve gone through it.” Janet Elkins, who co-chaired the event with Maggie Clevenger, understands the need for Alzheimer’s support groups in Pitkin and surrounding counties. She is a former activities director at a nursing home where she had daily contact with patients and their families. One man with Alzheimer’s disease named Ralph left a lasting impression. “When I first started working with him, I knew there was something about his life that made him special.” she said, holding back tears. “What the disease has done is slowly attacked him, and it has been devastating to his family and me.”
Along with Elkins, there were several health-care professionals and assisted living facilities that participated in making the first Memory Walk in Glenwood Springs a success. Heritage Park in Carbondale provided booths along the route featuring refreshments, massages, aromatherapy, face-painting and Heeling Partners dog therapy. Glen Valley Care Center provided first aid volunteers, while the White River Band donated its time to entertain walkers with rock music. Other sponsors included Aspen Ridge Care Center, the Colorado State Veterans Home, and Antlers Inn, which donated complimentary room and board for the traveling walk crew from Grand Junction. “Today we are here raising awareness and money so we can make Alzheimer’s just a memory,” said Annie Smyth, a regional director of the Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter for the Western Slope. “We understand and respect those with dementia and their families. The money raised provides education, caregiver training, our 24/7 helpline, support groups, and the Family Resource Center.” “The community support has been amazing,” Smyth said. “Our goal is to raise $9,000 and the pledges are still coming in. We are hopeful we will reach our goal.””The community support has been amazing,” Smyth said. “Our goal is to raise $9,000 and the pledges are still coming in. We are hopeful we will reach our goal.”
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