Memory Walk not just for memories

Registration for the Memory Walk hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association Kaua‘i Office is now being taken.

Cheryl Ann Farrell, who previously served as director of the American Heart Association’s Kaua‘i office, was named the 2008 coordinator for the annual walk which takes place Nov. 1 at the Kukui Grove Shopping Center.

The Memory Walk is the signature awareness-building and fundraising event to support Alzheimer’s-related programs and services on Kaua‘i.

According to a press release from the Alzheimer’s Association, there are about 1,500 people affected by Alzheimer’s on Kaua‘i and more than 28,000 people affected in Hawai‘i. This number is expected to increase to more than 2,600 by 2050.

“Alzheimer’s is not happening in some faraway place, or in the future,” Farrell said. “It is here. It is now. It is affecting our families, our friends, and our community. We are all impacted, one way or another, by this disease.”

Funds raised through the Memory walk provide help and hope to all those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and its related disorders on Kaua‘i.

“The strength of our community here on Kaua‘i is our ability to come together to support those who need help,” Farrell said. “Kaua‘i is known for that strength.”

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder named for German physician Alois Alzheimer who first described the disease in 1906, states the Alzheimer’s Association Web site.

Since that time, scientists have learned more about the disease.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive and fatal brain disease which destroys brain cells resulting in problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies, or social life.

The disease gets worse over time and is fatal. According to the Web site, it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Alzheimer’s has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms, combined with the right services and support can make life better for those affected by Alzheimer’s.

The Web site states that most of the information on Alzheimer’s has been learned or discovered in the last 15 years and there is an accelerating international effort to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, or prevent it from developing.

“When I was asked to assume this role of coordinator for the 2008 Memory Walk, my heart was touched by all those affected by Alzheimer’s, and I know that Kaua‘i will come together to support our families and friends,” Farrell said.

The disease affects not only patients, but caregivers of those affected as well.

Farrell encourages individuals, businesses, service and cultural organizations, schools, and religious groups to make a commitment to take steps towards helping caregivers on Kaua‘i.

Jill Hedges-Ramsey, the Alzheimer’s Association education and training coordinator for Kaua‘i, welcomed Farrell’s experience and enthusiasm for the 2008 Memory Walk.

“We’re going to triple the amount of walkers we had last year,” Hedges-Ramsey said. “Cheryl Ann is looking forward to working together with us to create a vibrant event to honor all those living with the disease, their families and caregivers.”

For more information on the Memory Walk, or programs and services of the Alzheimer’s Association, call the Kaua‘i office at 245-3200.

Information and registration for the walk can also be done by visiting www.memorywalk2008kauai.kintera.org

Information on Alzheimer’s disease and the research being done can be found by visiting the Alzheimer’s Association Web site at www.alz.org

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com

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