Appian Way was decorated in purple, the awareness color of the Alzheimer’s disease, as supporters gathered the morning of Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014.
Individual walkers and teams in coordinated shirts walked up to two miles, starting on Appian Way and proceeding up Main Street. Some were pushing fellow participants in wheelchairs, while others held hands.
The Alzheimer’s Awareness Walk was an event to raise awareness for the disease.
Ella Schwotzer, public relations coordinator of four years with the Alzheimer’s Association, stated that they had been expecting more than 40 teams to be participating that morning, not including the many individual walkers who registered and donated the morning of.
“My grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease,” Schwotzer noted, when asked why she initially got involved with the association.
The walk is hosted at KSC annually. “It definitely takes the wonderful committee of volunteers that we have from the Keene area to put on the event,” Schwotzer said. “They’ve done such a phenomenal job.”
This year’s Alzheimer’s Walk at KSC was Paul Lefebvre’s second year participating. He first heard of the event on Facebook.
“I’m walking for a number of reasons,” Lefebvre explained, “My mom passed away from Dementia three years ago.”
Lefebvre works as a program manager for Chesco, a local non-profit agency in Keene that helps to support individuals in the area with developmental disabilities.
Lefebvre stated that the adults he works with were another reason that he walked, “Some of our folks are also experiencing Dementia and Alzheimer’s, so those are the two big reasons that I walk.”
Lefebvre was the team captain for his group, named after Chesco.
Jessica Smith, who came from Westmoreland, N.H. that morning, walked for a similar personal reason.
As a member of Team Howard, Smith initially started participating in the KSC event in support of a friend.
“I started walking this event with my friend Christine. We do it for her mom, Pat Howard,” Smith stated.
Smith, who used to work at an assisted living facility in Newmarket, N.H. called The Pines, mentioned participating in previous awareness walks, like the one hosted in Portsmouth, N.H.
“I think this is my sixth year,” Smith recalled, referring to the event at Keene.
When asked on why she keeps coming back, Smith shared her strong opinion of the disease.
“Alzheimer’s is a disgusting disease and we just have to find a cure for it,” Smith stated, “I don’t think we put enough emphasis on it.”
While Smith is a veteran at these walks, the event at Keene this year has attracted some newcomers, as well.
Melissa Malone is a Unit Support Assistant at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital, where she first heard of the walk.
“I know two people who have passed away of Alzheimer’s,” Malone stated, after mentioning that she spends much of her time at the hospital working in the in-patient unit. Malone is a member of Team Beast, who gathered that morning to walk to show their support. This was Malone’s first time walking.
Schwotzer stated that the goal for this particular event was to raise $50,000. According to the Alzheimer’s Association website on the morning before the event, the 46 pre-registered teams had already raised over $30,000.
“We do continue fundraising into November 1, so people are welcome to still continue to donate and support the organization,” Schwotzer encouraged.
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at email@example.com