#039;Memory Walk#039; to help battle Alzheimer#039;s

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2003

Nearly everyone would agree that memories are priceless, but millions of Americans suffer from a debilitating disease that destroys those mementos of their lives.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, it is a common form of dementia that causes an increasing decline in memory, thinking and reasoning. Symptoms typically begin with difficulty remembering new information and progress to the point that individuals lose the ability to maintain their quality of life.

The Moose Lodge 701 and King's Daughters Medical Center, in conjunction with the Lexington chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, are hoping to do their part in battling this disease by sponsoring the annual Memory Walk in Ashland, Ky., Saturday.

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Registration begins at 10 a.m. in Central Park. The walk starts at 11 a.m. Anyone who wishes to walk with or sponsor the Moose must contact the lodge today.

However, everyone is welcome to show up on their own. Participants can walk as individuals or as part of a team. Walkers seek people to sponsor them by making donations to the Alzheimer's Association.

Moose lodge chairperson Lois Anderson of Ironton knows first-hand how devastating the disease can be. She is the caregiver for her 72-year-old father, Grady Daniels, and has a hard time talking about it without breaking down in tears.

"It is truly horrible," she said of the effect Alzheimer's has had on her and her family. "It is a devastating disease for everyone."

The disease started slowly, at first just causing minor inconveniences such as misplaced keys, Anderson said. Then a double case of pneumonia caused the disease to advance so rapidly that it became painful to watch her father slip away, she said.

"He was there one day, and the next he was like a child," she said with the emotion evident in her voice.

The Memory Walk is the Alzheimer's Association's national event to help those battling Alzheimer's disease. Each fall, Memory Walks take place in more than 450 communities across the country.

Since 1989, Memory Walk has raised more than $120 million and is the largest national fund raising event in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.

"If you have anyone who has had Alzheimer's, you will know how important it is to raise money for research," said Fran Collins, an organizer for the Moose lodge. "It is such a devastating disease to watch someone you love deteriorate. We need to raise money for research to slow down the process or cure it."

Anderson and Collins both encouraged everyone to come support the events, whether it is through the Moose, as an individual with sponsors or just as a walker to make a donation.

"It does not matter if it is 50 cents, $1, or what, every penny counts," Anderson said.