Memory Walk raises money for Alzheimer's - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Memory Walk raises money for Alzheimer's

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By Sarah Baldwin - bio | email

July 18, 2008

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) -  This year they hope to raise $25,000 with the 10th Annual Dr. Jim Neill Memory Walk .  Care-givers say the funds and awareness events like this bring to the disease are immeasurable.  

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As an only child, Rhonda Jackson was used to her strong dad, Ronny McCray, a Thomasville firefighter for 28 years, always looking out for her. But now, the roles are reversed.  "He couldn't take care of any of his financial matters, he couldn't remember to take baths, he couldn't dress himself. He'd get confused, not knowing where he was," says Jackson. That's how things changed for them after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2001 at the age of 55.  "I'm his caretaker. I make all the decisions for him. So the tables and the rolls have definitely turned. And its very difficult."

The people are different, but the stories are so similar.  "When I first found out it was devastating. But as it got worse it was even more heartbreaking," says Elaine King of her husband Bob .  Dollie A. Harrison husband has Alzheimer's too.  She adds, "He started off with just the little things in life like 'what's today?' 'where are we going?' And from that time on it began to get a little bit worse."

All these women find comfort in the Alzheimer Support Group they attend at Plantation Manor Assisted living, the largest one in Georgia.  "The family care-givers really have as tough of time as the people with Alzheimer's. It's such a stressful thing to go through," says Betty Sawyer, the facilitator of the group who's husband died a few years ago from the disease.

While their situation is heartbreaking, its comforting to know events like the Jim Neill memory walk are planned, and continue to grow every year.   "All the proceeds will go to the Thomasville walk to raise money for this disease," says Tammy Bryant Co-Chair of the event.  Dr. Robert Garrison adds, "They have developed several medications. While it doesn't cure alzheimer's, it does slow down the progression. They're doing a lot of genetic research." 

"The memory walk I think is wonderful. Maybe someday someone can come up with a cure," says Harrison.  Even though their loved ones are beginning to forget, their caretakers are glad others will remember to fight for them.

The Alzheimer's Support Group at Plantation Manor is open to anyone in the community.  Tickets to the Memory Walk kick-off are $25 per person or $300 for a corporate table.  Call 229-227-2980 to get them.

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