Student Life Editor
Early on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, Keene State College students and members of the surrounding Keene community filled Appian Way in preparation for a morning walk aimed at finding a cure. The annual Monadnock Region Walk to End Alzheimer’s, organized by Bentley Commons at Keene and Circle K, is just one walk of many across the nation since 1989.
Teams registered and took team photos, entered raffles, and visited with two miniature ponies. They then had the chance to warm up with a Zumba demonstration from Keene Fusion Studios.
During his introduction before the walk, Jay Kahn, vice president for finance and planning, said, “We’re all here because we all know Alzheimer’s disease is not just a statistic, it’s one that invades the home.”
This was the central theme for each of the speakers: the personal stories, struggles, and long good-byes of loved ones.
“It’s for an important cause and Alzheimer’s affects a lot of people,” Junior Alexandria Petrilli said. “When you put it on a personal level, it’s really important.”
Senior Adrienne Osborne, a member of Circle K, brings that sentiment to heart for her friends. Osborne’s father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago at age 50. Osborne’s father was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. According to Osborne, early-onset is much less common and only about 3 percent of Alzheimer’s patients are diagnosed with it.
“My whole family has their own way of dealing with it,” Osborne said.
For Osborne, advocacy and fund raising are the most effective ways of dealing with her father’s diagnosis. Even though she participates in the walk annually, she raises money all year.
“My whole life revolves around it all year,” Osborne said, “but it’s just one day.”
This year, Osborne was the highest individual fundraiser, raising just over $3,000. Her team was the second highest fundraiser with $4,600, which was her team’s personal best.
This was Osborne’s fourth walk, the first of which she participated in just months before learning of her father’s diagnosis.
Osborne was pleased with this year’s turnout.
“This year it was really cool to see a lot of younger teams,” Osborne said. “I hope to see that continue in coming years.”
Preceding the actual walk was the Promise Garden Ceremony. Participants were given a specific colored flower based on their connection to Alzheimer’s: support, victim, caretaker, or someone who had lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s disease. Flowers were held up during the ceremony to demonstrate the connections to Alzheimer’s disease in the KSC community.
“A lot of people here know someone who has Alzheimer’s,” junior Brittany Bianchi said.
Bianchi emphasized the importance of walks and events like this to provide not only funding for research and advocacy, but support victims of Alzheimer’s and their caretakers and families.
Senior Kelly Rowles was not only impressed with the college’s turnout, but of the community as well.
“It brings the Keene community together in a central place,” Rowles said.
She added she’s glad to see the community feel so welcome on campus, especially when it comes to teaming up to advocate for such an important cause.
Allie Bedell can be contacted at email@example.com