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Memory Walk raises money in fight against Alzheimer's

October 17, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

erinc@herald-mail.com

Mary Lou Edmonds shed her jacket sometime after walking her first mile.

Halfway through her third, she was still pumping her arms, taking long strides.

Edmonds doesn't know anyone suffering from Alzheimer's - the disease she was walking to raise money for Sunday at Hagers-town Community College - yet she recognizes that many are suffering, and she wanted to help.

Sunday's Memory Walk was her fifth.

About 200 people were registered to walk Sunday, according to Development Coordinator Mary Ellen Mitchell, including some who suffer from Alzheimer's disease, a progressive, irreversible neurological disorder.

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Wheelchairs eased around the course. Mothers pushed strollers. One toddler stood in the middle of the gymnasium dancing more than walking. And three girls, who Mitchell said were on a track team, chose to run three miles.

"People do the walk in different ways," she said.

Deb Burker, a volunteer, brought nine patients from Somerford, an assisted living home in Hagerstown, to participate in the walk. The patients all suffered from Alzheimer's and each walked a few laps in the college gymnasium, she said.

The patients and other walkers were also treated to carnival-like activities in the gym, including balloon animals, music and face painting.

"It's been a good day," Burker said. "They love the music."

Joan Budny, of Hagerstown, walked into the gym after completing three miles around the campus - her ninth Memory Walk.

Budny, who recently lost an uncle to Alzheimer's, said her family also has a history of dementia, making the walk very personal for her. Because she knows she is at risk for Alzheimer's, Budny said she does crossword and jigsaw puzzles.

"I do my puzzles every day," she said.

Puzzles help stimulate a portion of the brain that can succumb to the disease, she said.

Edmonds said while she is probably not at risk for Alzheimer's, she tries to take care of herself. She walks between three and seven miles most days.

Diana Jones and her husband Bob, of State Line, Pa., walked with a group of seven from Erie Insurance, which has offices in Boonsboro and Chambersburg, Pa. Diana Jones said she enjoys walking for exercise, and for three years she and her husband have walked a few miles to support Alzheimer's programs.

One of her great-uncles died from the disease. The group raised more than $500, she said.

"I just wish this wasn't necessary," she said.

Sunday, the pair and the other volunteers and walkers raised more than $25,000 at Hagerstown's 12th annual Memory Walk, Mitchell said. The money raised will help pay for Alzheimer's programs locally, she said.

"The money raised in the community stays in the community," she said.

A portion of the money also will be donated to a Gulf Coast Hurricane Katrina relief fund to rebuild many Alzheimer's Association buildings that were destroyed.

Diana and Bob Jones said they believe donations to Alzheimer's could be diminished by the country's generosity to Gulf Coast victims.

"Donations might be down," Diana Jones said. "Everybody has only so much to give."

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