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Alzheimer's walk raises awareness

October 22, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Alzheimer's walk raises awareness



Karen Pryor knows first hand the devastating effect Alzheimer's can have on a family.

Her late grandfather, Russell Perdew suffered for years with the disease, slowly losing his physical and mental capabilities, she said.

His deteriorated condition became apparent on a drive to a family member's funeral a few years ago, she said.

"He saw the flags on the car and thought he was going to vote," said Pryor of Hagerstown.

To honor her grandfather's memory, Pryor and other family members put on their sneakers to participate in the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk 2000 at Hagerstown Community College Sunday afternoon.

Pryor and her teammates with Red Feather an auxiliary group of the Red Men's Club in Williamsport, raised nearly $2,000 this year, she said.

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Judy Cole, Pryor's sister, said she fears that she, too, will succumb to Alzheimer's and hopes her family's efforts will help find a cure.

About $44,000 was raised by the 270 people who walked or ran the 1/8 mile-, one mile- or three-mile course, said Pamela Dalton, Memory Walk coordinator.

"It was very successful," she said. The Memory Walk, which serves as the association's primary fundraiser, has been held locally for seven years, she said.

Dalton said 2,500 in Washington County have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

The walk began at 1 p.m. at the HCC gym with entertainment provided by Lou Pfang and Kathy Martin. Leslee Wojnarowski of Frederick County, Md., was the Memory Walk 2000 top fundraiser, bringing in $1,227 individually and helping her team at Beverly Health Care contribute $3,000.

Wojnarowski has been an advocate for Alzheimer's awareness since her mother Betty Cogan, was diagnosed with the disease in her late 50s.

"The first sign was her repetitiveness. She would always ask 'Why am I here? Where am I going?'" said Wojnarowski.

Then as time passed, Cogan became forgetful of "little things that meant the world to her," said Wojnarowski.

Eventually, her mother's health began to deteriorate and Wojnarowski said she was place in a nursing home requiring care for her most basic needs.

Her regular visits have helped get closer to her mother, she said.

"She has her good days and her bad days. When we're together we laugh and we cry," said Wojnarowski.

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