The Hudson Valley NY Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association brought their fundraiser back in-person to the Walkway Over the Hudson this past Saturday.
This year the Highland Rotary formed a team to participate in the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s and raised about $5,500, doing so in honor of Linda Auchmoody who passed away from the disease on July 28 at age of 72. Her husband Lenny was touched by the outpouring of support that he received.
“I started crying, how do you think I felt? But anything they do here today [is] so people don’t have to go through what she did and I did,” Auchmoody said. “I was always supposed to be a tough guy but this beat me up terribly.”
Auchmoody said his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s nearly 10 years ago. On the ride back home from the doctor’s office Lenny knew he would eventually lose his wife but decided that he would not place her in a nursing home but would take care of her himself. In the last 18 months Lenny brought in a woman 3 or 4 times a week to help him care for Linda, which relieved some of the stress he was feeling.
“As bad as it was in the end, I miss her not being here, even though she didn’t know who I was and didn’t know anybody and didn’t speak, but at least she was physically here,” Lenny said. “I promised her father, may he rest in peace, that I would always take care of her and I’m proud that I lived up to my promise.”
Rotarian Don Verity said Auchmoody has been a friend of the club, “for a long time and we felt that it was necessary to be in solidarity and support his family.”
Verity said the majority of the funds raised, “goes for care taking, education and most importantly for research and hopefully someday to eradicate this whole thing.”
Highland School Superintendent Joel Freer recently joined Rotary and helped raise $1,280 for the Alzheimer’s Association through many who know him at school.
“My people came out pretty strong, which is good,” he said.
People who participated on the walk held handmade colored flowers with blue meaning that the person is living with Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia; yellow for someone who is caring for a person with Alzheimer’s; purple signifies that the person walking has lost someone to the disease and an orange flower means they are supporting the cause and the Alzheimer’s Association’s vision of a world without the disease.
Master of Ceremonies Bill Miller said, “take a look at these symbolic flowers that surround you; we don’t stop when something’s in our way [but] we keep pushing to break through with this fight against Alzheimer’s.”
Alzheimer’s Communications Manager Dugan Radwin said the Hudson Valley chapter covers 7 counties and the Walkway Over the Hudson event raised $181,720 for the Association.
“We provide a lot of support to families who are living with Alzheimer’s, everything from care consultations with professional social workers on staff, providing client resources that can help, we have support groups, we have educational programs both for the general public and caregivers to help them deal with the changes that happen as the illness progresses. We are also the biggest non-profit funder of research in the world, the U.S. and Chinese governments are the only ones ahead of us.”
Radwin said the FDA recently approved a new drug called Aduhelm made by Biogen that may slow the progression of the disease, while other drugs only mask the symptoms. It’s not a cure but it’s a treatment.” Some news outlets, however, have reported that the medical community is somewhat divided on the efficacy of this drug and estimates put the annual cost between $30,000 to $50,000.
Walk Manager Tina Eckert said they spend about 9 months recruiting committee members and walk teams along with planing the logistics for the event. This year there were 113 teams that participated in the Walk, some with two individuals with the largest at more than 30 people.
The Alzheimer’s Association Executive Director David Sobel said due to the pandemic they had to move all of the programs and support groups to virtual online meetings, a move Sobel said was done very quickly and efficiently by the staff.
“That’s been difficult for people living with Alzheimer’s, their caregivers and family members because everything is better in person,” he said.
Sobel said fundraising efforts for 2021 continues until December 31, “so we encourage people after the event to send out emails to their friends and family with pictures of them at the Walk, saying it is not too late to give. People can also go on social media and do a Facebook fundraiser.”
Sobel concluded by thanking his staff, committee members, walk teams, the ‘incredible’ volunteers, and Walk’s co-chairs Tara Arthurs and Alycia Sofokles, “who are incredible and have driven this team to pass the [fundraising] goal, and our terrific sponsors Edward Jones financial advisors and Tompkins Mahopac Bank. It’ a group effort and everybody makes it happen.”
For more information about Alzheimer’s and support programs call 1-800-272-3900 or go online to www.alz.org.