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Stepping out to fight Alzheimer's

February 25, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

Chris Vores' grandmother has Alzheimer's disease.

While Vores wanted to do something to help his grandmother and others like her with the disease, he did not imagine his considerable dancing abilities would be of much use.

He was wrong.

Vores, of Waynesboro, Pa., paired up Saturday night with Karen Ziska of Sharpsburg to dance at the Forget-Me-Not Gala - Dancing Stars of Washington County to raise money for the Alzheimer's Association's Greater Maryland Chapter.

Ziska and Vores were among six couples competing in the event at Fountain Head Country Club. Each of the couples raised money for the foundation by soliciting votes at $1 each. Votes were cast prior to the event via the Internet, and gala attendees continued to pay for votes throughout the night.

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"I knew my grandmother had Alzheimer's, but I didn't really think about how I could help," Vores said. "Doing this is such a great way to give something back."

All of the "Dancing Stars" participating in the event received free instruction in progressive waltz and salsa from Lee Ann Wolff of Wedding Dance. Beyond that, participants had varying degrees of dance experience.

Dancers Steve and Pam Springer of Hagerstown have competed locally and nationally, and have performed at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and at Grand Central Station in New York.

Scott Hershberger and Anita Killcrece, both of Waynesboro, on the other hand, said their high school and college experience with show choir and color guard, respectively, did not lend them much knowledge of the waltz and salsa.

"We just thought it would be something new and exciting to do," Hershberger said. "And it seems like everyone we talked to knew someone who has had Alzheimer's, so it was easy to find people to donate."

Both Hershberger and Killcrece said they had close relatives who had Alzheimer's.

While the Alzheimer's Association has been hosting a gala for five years, this is just the second year for Dancing Stars of Washington County. Following the success of last year's event, Terry Miller, development coordinator of the Western Maryland Alzheimer's Association, said other Alzheimer's Association chapters throughout the region are planning similar events.

Cass Naugle, executive director of the Alzheimer's Association's Greater Maryland Chapter, stressed the importance of Alzheimer's research.

"With a growing number of baby boomers reaching the age of risk - over 65 - if we don't find a means of prevention or treatment, we could be faced with an epidemic," Naugle said.

Miller said about 170 people attended the event Saturday night. Tickets cost $75 and the association hoped to raise $60,000. Miller said proceeds would go to programs including a 24-hour hot line, information and referral services, and educational programs for individuals with Alzheimer's as well as caregivers and professionals.

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