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Alzheimer's walk draws large gathering at Bulloch Academy

Alzheimer's walk draws large gathering at Bulloch Academy

Alzheimer's walk draws large gathering at Bulloch Academy

The 2012 Walk to End Alzheimer's kick...

The rain that came late Saturday morning was not enough to discourage the volunteers gathered at Bulloch Academy for the 2012 Walk to End Alzheimer’s event.
    People were enthusiastic and excited about helping raise funds to find a cure for America’s sixth leading cause of death.
    According to Jo Ann Hickman, honorary co-chairwoman of the event with husband Billy, “In America, every 68 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.”
    For Jo Ann, these statistics concern her because her mother was recently diagnosed with the disease.
    “Billy’s mother died in 2003 with Alzheimer’s, so it bothers both of us that there is possibly a genetic component to it,” Jo Ann Hickman said.
    About 300 walkers made their way around the track and ended their walk with the rain falling. Teams, composed of single volunteers and sponsorship teams, walked with excitement and camaraderie, knowing their efforts would help make a dent in the disease that plagues so many.
    There were booths set up around the track by organizations in the region such as Cedar Plantation of Metter, Home Instead Senior Care, Hospice Advantage, Project Lifesaver of the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, The Pilot Club of Statesboro and 24/7 Help Line. All were willing to share with volunteers and visitors the many ways that Alzheimer’s patients are helped through their organizations and what each had to offer.
    Joannie Morris, a psychology major at Georgia Southern University, shared her thoughts on Alzheimer’s and why she was at the walk.
    “I had a grandmother with Alzheimer’s,” Morris said. “When I was really young she always remembered us, but then later she became very confused. It became a very difficult time for my entire family.”
Mark Barnes, another Georgia Southern student, said his friend’s niece has Alzheimer’s disease.
    “I’m here to support the awareness for the disease,” he said. “For my friend, I know it’s difficult and feel that it would be hard for me.”
    Both Morris and Barnes are part of the Psychology Clinic program at Georgia Southern, an outreach to the community for people in need.
    Julie Stone, a member of the local planning committee, said her father died of Alzheimer’s in 1998, and it has been a driving force for since then to be a part of helping to find a cure.
    “We are hoping and praying (through this event) that we will raise a large amount of money for support and research in this field and funds to help support the caregivers,” she said.
    Stone added that she hopes a cure can be found before the next generation has to face similar situations.
    The football team and cheerleaders of Bulloch Academy led the beginning of the walk.
    A medevac helicopter flew in during the opening ceremonies and landed in the middle of the football field. The medics, based in Statesboro, were there to talk with any interested persons about their services. All eyes were focused on the copter as it arrived.
    Pinwheels were flying everywhere. A children’s play center had been established with inflatable slides, etc. The academy also had its country store open.
    “You all have someone you know who has been affected by Alzheimer’s,” Jo Ann Hickman said in the opening speech. “This year alone, doctors will diagnose over one-half million under the age of 65, so none of us are excluded. Just because walk day is here, that doesn’t mean your fundraising has to end. We hope you’ll continue to spread the word about this cause and get your friends and family and co-workers to donate.
    “Alzheimer’s isn’t going away,” she continued. “It’s spreading across the country at an alarming rate and continuing to take its toll here in Statesboro.”

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