Hundreds participate in Memory Walk - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Hundreds participate in Memory Walk

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October 9, 2004

Albany- There are four million Americans with Alzheimer's disease. Unless a cure or prevention is found, that number will skyrocket to 14 million by the year 2050.

"We've got to beat this thing," says Anne Johnson Byrd.

Byrd is determined to help beat the disease that took away her mother Earnie Lee Johnson at the age of 83.

"She actually had Alzheimer's for ten years and she passed away in 2002. So, there were 15 children, 12 of us were living and we made a conscious decision to continue to support Alzheimer's Association because those kinds of organizations supported us. We want to continue to give back in memory of her," she says.

Byrd raised $10,000, gathered 200 family members and friends, and participated in the 10th annual Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk.

"My mom, she's 70 and she's had it for about 15 years. We love her very much and we think about other people that are going through this too," says Kay Hunt.

Hunt and her family are also walking toward a cure for the disease that has caused them so much pain.

"Two and a half years ago we had to put her in the nursing home because we could no longer keep her at home," says Hunt's sister-in-law, Tara Gardner.

The families, and faces aren't the same but many of the stories are, and unfortunately there are more and more every year.

"In Southwest Georgia alone there's 10,000 people with this disease. Just in Southwest Georgia. That's in our 23 county area. It devastating," says Bennett Watts, Chairman of the board for the Alzheimer's Association of Southwest Georgia.

But the walkers say they will turn that devastation into a will to fight back.

"My mom was a worker. She was a giver. So, whenever I send a flyer out and I get a response, I say thank you mama. You're still alive," Byrd says.

All of the proceeds raised from the Memory Walk go to research, education and the Safe Return program which helps locate missing Alzheimer's patients.

Posted at 3:40 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com