Currently 5.4 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease and about 13 percent of them that are diagnosed are 65 and older, making Alzheimer’s sixth in the nation’s leading causes of death. An estimated 150,000 of those are North Carolinians with Alzheimer’s. When it comes to dealing with Alzheimer’s, it’s important to remember that … “You don’t have to go it alone,” said Julie Russo. 

McKee Home’s has fundraised for the Alzheimer’s Association for five years. This year the Fayetteville Walk to End Alzheimer’s raised $90,372 which is significantly more than its goal of $69,000.

This year the walk included 76 teams 688 walkers and 818 total participants. The top two teams being Rhudy’s with $13,292 worth of donations and The A team with $12,083. 

To make things more competitive, the walk included a traveling trophy contest. The contest encouraged the teams to have a healthy competition to raise money and bring awareness to the cause. Teams organized garage sales, raffles and other fundraisers to build moral for the walk. 

One of the most touching aspects of the walk is the promise garden ceremony. Loved ones and caregivers can place pinwheel-shaped flowers in the garden of hope before the walk. Flowers are personalized with messages and names. The garden of hope also gives walker’s something to take with them to remain hopeful for a cure to be found.

Originally McKee homes started the walk in its own neighborhoods but the participation has been so overwhelming in recent years that the walk now takes place downtown. 

“My father-in-law Joe McKee died from Alzheimer’s complications. My husband Pat McKee and his brother Mike founded McKee Homes in their father’s honor and donate a portion of every home sale to the Joe McKee Memorial Alzheimer’s Fund. We use this fund to support the Alzheimer’s Association as well as other local and national charities. McKee Homes made a $25,000 donation this year,” said Russo.

The Fayetteville Walk to End Alzheimer’s has raised over $250,000 in the past five years. 

The money raised goes toward research, patient and family services, public awareness and fundraising. The Alzheimer’s Association strives to: 

• Help families across the country by continuing to provide and enhance programs focusing on education and support.

• Advance critical research studies into methods of treatment, prevention and ultimately, a cure.

• Speak up for the needs and rights of those facing Alzheimer’s through our public policy initiatives.

“After Pat’s dad died, he knew he wanted to do something to help others who were dealing with Alzheimer’s,” she said. 

To prevent Alzheimer’s some of the measures include physical exercise, mental exercises, no smoking and maintaining a healthy diet. 

“The thing I look forward to the most is the opportunity to bring the community together for a common cause. This disease affects so many and those it affects often are not aware of the services that the Alzheimer’s Association provides,” she said. 

If you missed the Fifth Annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s, next year’s will be September 24, 2016.


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