KAPAA — Barbara G. Worthington, accompanied by her daughter Vicky Stone, needed some extra time to get started Saturday morning.
“She just moved here,” Stone said. “She’s in the late stages of Alzheimer’s. She’s been battling Alzheimer’s for nine years and can do the walk — she just needs a little more time.”
Worthington and her daughter joined about 200 walkers who took to Ke Ala Hele Makalae, the Kapaa multi-use path, to raise funds for the fight against Alzheimer’s, as well as spread awareness of the disease, the sixth-leading causeof death in the United States.
Justine Flores sported the symbolic yellow fabric flower that denoted her as a caregiver.
“I have a grandma who has Alzheimer’s,” Flores said. “She’s not my biological grandma — just my grandma. When I go to visit her, sometimes she doesn’t even know who I am.”
Ashley Studerus, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s coordinator, said the walk was changed to the Kapaa Beach Park to take advantage of Ke Ala Hele Makalae. The walkers could choose the one- or three-mile route.
“This is my first time,” said Dick Ueoka. “I came because Rona Miura is in our golf club and when she talked to us about it, I wanted to help her out.”
Miura was one of the top fundraisers, contributing to the goal of $30,000.
“We haven’t done the final tabulations, but it appears we’ll make goal, and more,” Studerus said.
Grand Champions who raised more than $1,000 in the fight against Alzheimer’s include Rona Miura, Dr. Laurel Coleman, Hope DeMarco, Sherry Olkonen, Ruth Murphy, Peggy Montemayor and Grace Delos Reyes.
The total also includes the participation of the 30 residents of the Regency at Puakea who hosted their own Alzheimer’s Walk last Saturday on the Puhi facility grounds, raising more than $1,500, Studerus said.
Their effort was joined by the Memory Keepers, a team from the county’s Agency on Elderly Affairs, who hosted a large rummage sale at the Lihue Neighborhood Center to meet their goal of raising $10,000.
“They are the top fundraising team on Kauai,” Studerus said. “They’re also the top fundraising team in the state.”
Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. declared Saturday as the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Day, sending the walkers off to the rumble of taiko from Joyful Noise under the direction of Aki Conquest.
“I know what it’s like,” Carvalho said. “My mother-in-law suffers from Alzheimer’s and Regina and I are caregivers.”
Marlene Burgess, a volunteer at the walk, said caregiving is never easy. She was a caregiver for her husband Dave for 10 years before he passed on.
“One day, I had to take a break, and when I returned, Dave was very happy, and said how happy he was to see me,” she said. “This made all the effort worthwhile.”