Do you remember where your keys are? What about what you had for breakfast? What year you graduated from high school? What about your son’s name? Yes, Alzheimer’s is a progressive loss of memory and it does not stop there. This is one of the deadliest diseases not to have declined in the last several years. It cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed. Pat and Julie McKee started the first Fayetteville Walk to End Alzheimer’s in 2011 and formed their company, McKee Homes, in his father’s honor by creating the Joe McKee Memorial Alzheimer’s Fund. A portion of every home sold goes to this fund, and it is used to support the Alzheimer’s Association in its mission. The company has been the main sponsor of the walk since its inception.
“We have been very fortunate to have started this walk in Fayetteville because the community as a whole has embraced the cause,” said Julie McKee, “Our partners in the homebuilding industry were some of our earliest supporters. Over the years, several different industries have joined the cause from Rhudy’s Jewelry to Team Elite, Coldwell Baker.”
Sponsors are the heartbeat of the walk including local media outlets getting out the word and other in-kind sponsorships, which have reduced overhead allowing for more funds to go directly to care and research.
This is a personal story for the McKees, with his father Joe being diagnosed and his mother, a primary caregiver for 10 years, watching his cognitive abilities slowly deteriorate over time. Julie McKee has been motivated to help others currently affected by the disease connect with the Alzheimer’s Association. She is a major sponsor, a member of the Eastern N.C. Alzheimer’s Association board of directors and co-chair of the Fayetteville Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
“Anyone with a brain can get Alzheimer’s. Every individual in this country, whether they have a direct connection to the disease or not, will be affected by it,” said McKee, “The only way to stop people from dying from this disease is to fund research.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and as many as 16 million will have the disease in 2050. Nearly one in every three seniors who dies each year has Alzheimer’s or another dementia. It is an unforgiving, expensive disease to fight. Indeed, the McKees have been affected and now work diligently to help others and the growing need.
The 5th Annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s this year will be held on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 9 a.m. beginning at the SwampDogs Stadium (2823 Legion Road, Fayetteville). There are other events coming up through the Fayetteville chapter including a corporate breakfast at the Hutchens Law Firm on March 24, booths at the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival and 4th Friday, a Team Captain Workshop on May 25 and a Swampdogs Alzheimer’s Association Night on Aug. 4. To learn more about the walk, to donate or find out how to get involved, visit www.alz.org/walk or find them on Facebook at fayettevillewalktoendalz.
There are 10 early warning signs for
• Memory loss that disrupts daily life
• Challenges in planning or solving problems.
• Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
• Confusion with time or place.
• Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
• New problems with words in speaking or writing.
• Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
• Decreased or poor judgment.
• Withdrawal from work or social activities.
• Changes in mood and personality.
For more information on these signs, promising research or other facts, visit www.alz.org.