California Lutheran University hosted the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday, Sept. 22, a charity event created to help raise awareness of the disease.
“The two main things we do are research and care support,” said Andrew Peake, event coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association, who helped organize the walk. “We help hundreds of families across Ventura County.”
The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s, is typically diagnosed in people over the age of 65. According to the Alzheimer’s Association website, patients see a gradual loss in short and long term memory as well as other intellectual abilities.
There are two main goals for the event.
“To bring awareness and also to raise money for research,” said Rosemary Flores-Gordon, area director for the Alzheimer’s Association.
The walk can also bring a sense of solidarity to those affected by the disease.
“Having Alzheimer’s is very isolating,” said Peake. “They feel alone. Their friends and neighbors don’t understand. That is why we walk in public places and public streets.” This was the first time the walk has been held at CLU. “It is a nice location. A beautiful campus,” said Peake.
There were more than a dozen sponsors at the event, including Amgen and Sunrise Senior Living of Westlake.
“I’m on the Alzheimer’s board and I do what I can to raise money and awareness,” said Cherie Johnson, an actress and supporter of Sunrise Senior Living. “I want to let college kids know that this could be them in 15 years.”
Ayse Knowles, an employee of sponsor Meditech, said she supports bringing awareness to Alzheimer’s.
“Both of my grandmas have it,” said Knowles. “It is scary. People in their late twenties are now being diagnosed,” she said.
The event also had guest speakers to discuss how Alzheimer’s had an impact on their lives.
Stan Smith is on the Board of Directors for the Association. His wife is a CLU alumnus. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s seven years ago.
“I’ve lost several members of my family to Alzheimer’s and I want to help the community,” said Theresa Valko, a leading volunteer.
Dr. James Sutton was also at the event to show support for Alzheimer’s research. He is one of few doctors in the area doing research on Alzheimer’s and dementia.
“We are excited about the research that’s been done,” said Sutton. “We’re here to let people know about our program and about the clinical research center in Oxnard.”
Cassie Murcray lives in the area and found out about the walk through an advertisement.
“I had a grandma who had Alzheimer’s, and that’s why I’m walking,” said Murcray as she waited to start the 5K walk.
After the participants finished the walk they were able to relax with a free lunch offered by AlmaVia of Camarillo, an assisted living home and another sponsor of the Association.
By the end of the day, the Alzheimer’s Association was able to succesfsully raise more than $105,000 for the Alzheimer’s cause.
Published Sept. 26, 2012