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Community pulls together for Alzheimer's

September 28, 1997

By JENNYLYNN BROWN

Staff Writer

You are not alone.

That's the message organizers of the fourth annual Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk want victims' families to remember year-round.

The Sunday walk through City Park and parts of downtown raised $20,000 of the total pledged $35,000 and about 300 people participated, officials said.

Alzheimer's disease affects 2,300 families in Washington County, said Linda L. Iseminger, coordinator of the Alzheimer's Association's Western Maryland Chapter, Washington County Branch.

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"I say families because Alzheimer's disease doesn't affect just the patient, but the whole family ... it's so devastating," Iseminger said.

Most of the funds go to the Western Maryland Chapter for services to Western Maryland families.

Iseminger said those families should also take comfort that their community cares.

"There are people here from businesses, nursing homes, the medical community - people from every walk of life - and it's amazing how many here are touched in some way by the disease," she said.

Many young people manned tables and handed out information packets that included a walking stick.

Kirsten Logan, 15, of Hagerstown, and Shifa Mohiuddin, 14, of Frederick, Md., were two of 12 St. James School classmates who handed out the tangerine and green T-shirts.

"I needed my community service hours and volunteered for this," said Logan.

"It seemed like a fun thing to do," said Mohiuddin, who is also completing community service hours.

"To have an opportunity to have fun and do good for somebody in this day and age is pretty rare," said Honorary Chairperson Dr. Joel Rosenthal of Potomac Neurology.

Before the walk, the 22-member Martinsburg Senior Citizen Kitchen Band, dressed in white blazers, slacks, hats and red sequined shirts, sat on stage and performed with tambourines, bells, drums and funnel-shaped metal horns, all accompanied by an organ.

After a moment of silence, Gail Miller sang a moving tribute, "Wind Beneath My Wings."

Many walkers brought groups of friends and co-workers, wearing purple, yellow or red team T-shirts.

Second-year participant Luther Lane, 57, of Greencastle, Pa., walked with four members of the Conomac Lions Club of Williamsport.

"It's a good cause to come back to. I've had relatives that have Alzheimer's. I saw the different stages that my father-in-law went through before he died. My message is to support the Alzheimer's Association because I know what the disease can do to you," Lane said.

Lane's group planned to complete the 1-mile course. He said he came prepared with a large, forest green umbrella.

At 3:20 p.m., it poured.

Rachel Marcum, 41, of Sharpsburg, said her team leader at Fahrney-Keedy Home & Village recruited her.

She joined Lana Arvin, 34, and her daughter, Tara Arvin, 12, both of Funkstown. Lana Arvin, a third-year participant, said she walked for her grandfather, as she wiped tears from her eyes.

Donations are still being accepted at the office, Suite 307, 5 Public Square, Iseminger said.

The first Memory Walk here was organized by Larry Kershner of First National Bank of Maryland. More than 200 walkers raised $17,000.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, irreversable disease characterized by brain cell degeneration causing debilitating forgetfulness. It affects four million Americans. For more information, call 301-797-4892.

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