Team Rockwood participates in annual walk for Alzheimers

a walk to end Alzheimers

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According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 67 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s: a disease that attacks the brain.

Kelly Hirschbuehler, junior, saw the disease first hand when her step- grandmother developed Alzheimer’s.

“She didn’t recognize anyone past a point,” Hirschbuehler said.

When Hirschbuehler would see her step-grandmother, she wouldn’t recognize her. Hirschbuehler was often confused with a random friend or cousin; she was no longer directly identified as ‘Kelly.’
“It was sad seeing her go downhill like that,” she said.

Eventually, she lost her battle and died from Alzheimer’s. Today, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., but it cannot be prevented, cured or slowed.

For that reason, the Alzheimer’s Association created the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This year marks the twenty-sixth year that the Alzheimer’s Association – St Louis Chapter has conducted the walk
On Saturday, Sept. 12, a Walk to End Alzheimer’s was held in downtown St. Louis. The walk started at the Scottrade Center with registration and pre-walk activities.

The overall goal for the St. Louis walk was to raise $795,000 in addition to a participant goal of 5,160 participants and 487 teams. In the end, the walk raised $720,000 which completed 90 percent of the goal. The Alzheimer’s Association is still accepting donations.

“It is not a race or timed event, but rather, a fun-filled day for families and participants of all ages,” Patrick Ayers, walk manager for the St. Louis Walk to End Alzheimer’s, said.

Ayers says he personally feels strongly about the race because he has had many loved ones succumb to the disease.

“If I can play even a small part in bringing the Alzheimer’s Association’s vision of ‘A World Without Alzheimer’s’ to light, I’m in for the game and that is what motivates me to get involved,” Ayers said.

Ayers describes how the walk began with an opening ceremony highlighted by the Promise Flower Ceremony where all registered participants receive a colored flower to honor and recognize the meaning of the walk.

Following opening ceremonies, people either participated in a three mile or a one mile walk. One of the teams was a group of students, teachers and parents of Rockwood.

“This year I started Team Rockwood in hopes of getting more district-wide support for our staff, students, and parents who are coping with Alzheimer’s in some way,” Denise Elam Dauw, Rockwood Team leader, said.

Elam Dauw has participated in the walk for several years with her family on Team Hope to honor her grandmother Sarah Zimmerman, who passed away from ate onset Alzheimer’s in 2010.

“We have many teachers coping or have lost a parent to this disease, and through word of mouth, we would like to see yearly growth for future Walks,” Elam Dauw said.

Jamie Wildt, fine art’s teacher, lost her grandmother, Beatrice, last April. Although Wildt isn’t participating with the Rockwood team, she is still showing her support with her family’s team ‘Beastrong.’

“This is our first year doing it, next year we kind of hope to raise some more money,” she said.
She reached her personal goal of $100, but plans on using more outlets to get more donations next year.

“This year I am just trying to get my feet wet,” Wildt said. “I kind of made a commitment to myself that I was going to do something about it and do what I can.”