10/21/12 — Fighting Alzheimer's one step, one wag at a time

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Fighting Alzheimer's one step, one wag at a time

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on October 21, 2012 1:50 AM

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Makayla Oddon, 4, pushes Alison Spaojezic, 8 months, in her stroller during the AlzNC Walk 2012 at Wayne Community College.

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Staff members from Woodard Care place their hands over their hearts during the pledge of allegiance at the start of the AlzNC Walk. Members of the care center, which treats people who are suffering from dementia, dressed as the 101 Dalmatians, and Jean Jones, right, dressed as Cruella De Vil.

Cruella De Vil ushered her Dalmatians onto the field as the music began, past a sitting Sylvia Brady.

Mrs. Brady watched from behind dark sunglasses alongside her husband of 52 years, Sam, as the Woodard Care team members, dressed as puppies, and fur-coated Jean Jones walked toward the booming music.

Minutes before they had walked for the Bradys and thousands of couples like them to support Alzheimer's North Carolina, but now, it was time to "wobble" for them.

The Dalmatians danced and wagged their tails as Mrs. Brady watched, pointing out their antics while her husband held her arm.

It's been nine years since her stroke, which has led to dementia, but there's no shortage of laughter in their life, he says.

Mrs. Jones, the owner of Woodard Care, said that's one of the most important aspects of caring for those who suffer from Alzheimer's or similar diseases.

"You've got to laugh," she said. "They're still human beings. They still want to dance."

And that's what the Alzheimer's Walk is about, said Alzheimer's North Carolina Director Alice Watkins.

It may be a fundraising event, raising more than $30,000 to fight the disease, but Mrs. Watkins said the event is also an opportunity for those stricken with Alzheimer's and those caring for loved ones with the disease to simply enjoy a day outside.

"For a while, you can get away from Alzheimer's," Mrs. Watkins said.

She also stressed how important it is for caregivers to have a day where they can enjoy being with their loved one, especially since Alzheimer's impacts far more lives than just those stricken with the disease.

That's where the organization's newest office in Greenville comes in. Along with a satellite office in Wilmington and the main office in Raleigh, Mrs. Watkins and her staff educate and offer support to those who have been thrust into the role of caregiver for those with Alzheimer's and similar diseases.

To contact the Greenville office about services and resources offered, call (252) 355-0054.

Award winners announced at the 3rd annual Neuse Region Alzheimer's Walk included:

* Best costumes - Woodard Care

* Best booth - The Pines of Goldsboro

* Highest funds raised (team) - Woodard Care

* Highest funds raised (individual) - Michelle Giles.