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Fund-raising goal set at $40,000 for Alzheimer's Memory Walk

October 13, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

John Venditta's father has Alzheimer's disease.

Carmine Venditta, 76, was diagnosed in 1993 with the progressive disorder that destroys cells in the brain. His son says there were signs a few years earlier.

Carmine Venditta lives in the Veterans Administration hospital in Valley Forge, Pa. His wife, Elizabeth Venditta, 75, goes to see him as often as she can, usually four or five times a week, John Venditta says.

There's no appreciation from her husband. He doesn't even know her.

"She's been grieving for 10 years," John Venditta says. "It's horrible. It's just a hideous disease."

John Venditta decided to walk in the Alzheimer's Association's 10th annual Memory Walk at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, in Hagerstown.

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He asked co-workers at Washington County Free Library if they would join him. Many responded instantly, and for the first time, the library will have a team.

The library team is not training for the one- to three-mile walk on the indoor track at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation Community Center.

We're approaching it in a very gentle librarian style, Venditta laughs.

The walk is a fund-raiser for the Greater Maryland Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, which serves families in 18 Maryland counties and Baltimore. Last year, Hagerstown walkers raised more than $30,000. This year's goal is $40,000, says Joyce Heptner, Western Maryland regional director for the Greater Maryland Chapter.

Each walker who raises $50 will receive a T-shirt, door prize tickets and post-walk refreshments from a variety of hometown restaurants and businesses. The day includes live entertainment and arts and crafts.

For the first time, walkers may register and collect pledges online at

www.alzgmd.org. Since July, more than $123,000 has been raised for the Greater Maryland chapter, says Mary Ellen Mitchell, development coordinator.

Proceeds support the association's mission to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through research, while enhancing care and support services for individuals and their families.

Mitchell says the Hagerstown Memory Walk is unique because of its indoor track venue. Participants have included people in wheelchairs and babies in strollers.

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