10/19/08 — A walk to remember

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A walk to remember

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 19, 2008 3:00 AM

The numbers were down, but the spirits remained high for the seventh annual Alzheimer's Memory Walk at Herman Park Saturday.

Showers threatened but held off as an estimated 200 walkers participated in the event to raise awareness and provide educational materials and family services.

Lisa Smith, Libby Dukay and Linda Cassell manned a booth for Family Works, which provides services to assisted living facilities and support for caregivers. They also went on the group walk.

For Ms. Smith, being there was personal as well as professional.

"I had a grandmother who had Alzheimer's," she said.

"We want to support the community and get the word out that we're a resource," Ms. Dukay added.

Sandy Morrissey and Shelby Blizzard were part of a contingent from Wayne Memorial Hospital who turned out for the walk.

"The hospital is very supportive of the cause," Ms. Morrissey said.

"We're a small group, but we walk every year," said Mrs. Blizzard, who was accompanied by her husband, Donald.

Reese Shaeffer, 8, was one of the top children who collected money for the cause, raising $500.

"I went to the neighborhood behind me and one of my friend's neighborhoods," she said. "I asked them if they could make a donation for Alzheimer's."

Brother Devan, 10, also helped with such events as yard sales to bring in donations.

They learned early about the importance of the cause. Mom Gerrie Shaeffer works with Goldsboro Assisted Living and the Alzheimer's Association.

"I just make them go with me when I do any of the fundraisers," she said. "We just all the time try to have something going on."

Robbie McSwain, a volunteer on the event's organizing committee, was disappointed by the turnout.

"It's off by a great big number. We usually have people lined up all down here (by the gazebo and the Park House)," she said. "We usually have a place full of kids and walkers and dogs. Last year we had a lot of people walking their dogs."

One of the few who brought a dog this year was Ann Tubb, with Maddie, a chocolate lab. It was their second year at the event, part of a team from Stoney Creek Free Will Baptist Church.

The cause was important enough to brave the elements.

"With Alzheimer's, it's a lot different than anything else," she said. "A very dear friend of mine, I watched her father decline with Alzheimer's and another friend of mine, her father now has it. The tough part is watching them make the decision that they can't care for them any more."

Calypso Fire Department, dressed and made up as clowns, led the parade that began and ended at Herman Park. For those children staying behind, Duplin County Girl Scout Troop 200 had a face-painting and craft booth set up.

Raffles were also held, and entertainment provided a backdrop for the festivities.

JoAnne Daniels, chairperson of the Memory Walk for the past two years, did not allow anything to dampen her spirits.

"It was pretty good for it being an ugly, nasty, rainy day," she said as she made her way through the crowd.

"I started setting up at 7 a.m. It was still raining. I'm very well pleased with the turnout, considering the weather."

With an estimated 20 formal teams from churches, businesses and organizations, as well as individual walkers, she praised the "outpouring of volunteers" who also assisted.

"There's a lot of good energy flowing around," she said.

Alice Watkins, executive director for the eastern Carolina chapter of the Alz-heimer's Association was also on hand and made an announcement about another way awareness about the disease is being raised.

On Friday, she said, an Alzheimer's stamp was unveiled that will now be available at the post office.

"When you go to the post office now, buy that stamp," she told the crowd. "Every time it's put on an envelope, it's going to tell people a little bit more about this disease."

Besides, she encouraged those who had bundled up and came out, despite the sun's absence on Saturday morning, "the sun is still in our hearts."