EUGENE, Ore. — Currently more than 75,000 people in Oregon are living with Alzheimer’s, but it’s not just the lives of those suffering that are impacted by the disease. It’s estimated around 150,000 people quit their jobs to become volunteer caregivers for their loved ones.
Step by step more than 400 people walk to raise awareness and money for the Alzheimer’s Association. “Our goal is to raise $53,000 for both care and support of those currently living with Alzheimer’s as well as to fund research and we’re about 75% to that goal and we’re hoping that we hit that today here,” said walk coordinator Kara Busick.
Each person walking decorated a flower representing their connections to the disease. “The yellow has to do with having a loved one tha tyou care for that has Alzheimer’s, the orange represents that you have lost someone to Alzheimer’s, the blue represents that you have Alzheimer’s disease, and the purple represents that you’re standing as an advocate to find good answers to the questions about Alzheimer’s diesase,” said Adele Tiberius, Alzheimer’s Association volunteer.
Year after year Barbara Passarelli comes back to walk. “A long time, maybe eight or ten years here at the walk,” said Passarelli.
She spent years caring for her mother. “I have her picture here. There’s mom, mom had Alzheimer’s and she died in 2006,” said Passarelli. But her connection to the disease took a sudden turn earlier this year. “I’ve just dropped off the planet since February. My husband has memory loss from kidney failure,” said Passarelli.
So now with each stride she takes this year, she’s hoping to further spread the message that Alzheimer’s can impact anyone at any time. “It could happen to anybody today, we were blown away. We’re in our 50s we’re dealing with memory loss, just out of the blue. Just stay in the moment with each other and find the joy and it’s all we’ve got, we’ve got moments.
There were two different paths walkers could take. One was a little more than one mile, the other was a little more than two miles.