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Fundraising walk for Alzheimer’s set for this weekend

By Staff | Oct 23, 2015

Dolores Bertolini was a Cape Coral city council member and a successful businesswoman.

But when it came to taking care of her husband, who had Alzheimer’s Disease for 11 years before dying in 2011, she felt lost, helpless, and even considered herself a failure because she wouldn’t accept the help.

This Saturday, at Centennial Park in Fort Myers, more than 600 walkers are expected to participate in the 2015 Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

The goal is to raise $65,000 as well as awareness not only to those who suffer the disease, but for those who suffer along with them, their caregivers.

Bertolini, who now works with caregivers for the Alvin Dubins Alzheimer’s Center, said there’s nothing dishonorable in seeking for help.

“They need the help to make their live a whole lot easier. It’s a rough road to travel,” Bertolini said. “You see the difference in how more people are involved from the first year to this year. The disease is spreading at a rate that’s difficult to swallow that this is happening. It’s spreading to the 45- to 55-year-old segment, and that’s scary.”

The event is held nationwide every year in more than 600 communities by the Alzheimer’s Association, with the goal of raising $56 million. So far the numbers are encouraging locally, almost $57,000 has already been raised, with 82 teams and 347 walkers committed to the event as of Wednesday.

“Every year, it’s bigger and better. We get more people who find out about the walk and the media has helped getting the word out,” said Katie Hood, event organizer. “It’s a great fundraiser, but it’s also a good way to allow us to show the community what we do here, helping families who deal with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.”

Alissa Searcy, sales director at the Windsor in Cape Coral, which is a main sponsor of the event and which has a memory-care component that cares for people with dementia, said they not only have a business commitment, but also a personal commitment, and that any late comers should take them over the top.

“All 10 of our facilities in the state of Florida participate in the walk. But everyone the Windsor staff has been doing everything since June 1 to raise money,” Searcy said. “We’ve raised more than $1,000. Also, a lot of people who have formed teams who are going to bring their money to the walk on Saturday. Many wait until the walk day to donate.”

Alzheimer’s is a chronic degenerative disease that at first results in forgetting recent events and advances to include problems with language, disorientation, mood swings, and behavioral issues, among other things. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death.

Bertolini said an Alzheimer’s patient and caregiver loses much more than their independence.

“It robs the individual, caregiver and everyone associated of their dignity, their strength and self being, and it takes years to recover from it unless you don’t sit home and continue to downhill trend you’re on,” Bertolini said.

Registration begins at 9 a.m., with the two-mile walk (and a one-mile, half-route walk) beginning at 10, followed by post-walk festivities at 11.

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