Sep 092007
 
Authors: Valerie Hisam

Over 600 participants geared up to walk around the CSU Oval and campus in support of Alzheimer’s disease in the 11th annual Memory Walk.

For some, the event was one motivated by love for a family member and, for others, it was to show support for patients and caregivers who are affected by the disease.

“We saw how (my mom) changed, so it feels good to participate,” said Denver resident and CSU alum, Michael Fultz, who walks with his family and friends to support his mom who has lived with Alzheimer’s for the past 14 years. “You realize how someone lives with this disease, where part of her is gone, but the other part of her is here.”

Alzheimer’s not only affects the person with the disease, but often those family members and caregivers also have to live with it everyday.

“It’s pretty amazing and feels good to have a sense of community,” said Alene Fultz, Michael’s daughter and one of the many family members who took part in the walk. “It’s also good just to see everyone together.”

The Fultz family was one of many that came out in the cold morning Sunday to walk the 5K and spend time with friends, coworkers and family members.

“It’s our life,” said Alicia Goebel, a senior life sciences open-option major and an employee at the Claire Bridge assisted living facility in Fort Collins. “Alzheimer’s revolves around us seven days a week, so now we are getting together outside of work to raise money for a good cause.”

In previous years, the Memory Walk in Fort Collins and Loveland have raised over $100,000, and this year the staff, volunteers and employees of the Alzheimer’s Association intended to surpass that.

“We truly have an outstanding Alzheimer’s Association in this community,” said Joanne Johnson, the director of Elder House, who helps a lot of Alzheimer’s patients at her elderly daycare. “This is a way to support them back, and a way to build awareness, which is needed to support each other.”

All of the donations that are made for the Memory Walk go to help fund research and benefit local associations that assist with those who have Alzheimer’s disease or the caregivers.

“It’s a way to come together as a community and support them,” Johnson said. “It’s really the caregiver though – that’s the biggest job there is (when dealing with Alzheimer’s).”

Along with Johnson and other assisted living facilities, there were many volunteers and family members present at the event.

“This is a special group of kind hearted, loving people,” said Beth Whitney, the volunteer organizer for the Memory Walk. “It could be snowing and we all would still be out here.”

For Whitney, it was also important for her to get her children involved, making it a family event for a different reason than support someone directly affected by Alzheimer’s.

“It has given them an appreciation for the geriatric,” Whitney said. “It’s time that we have to spend together for something that we know we all care about.”

Entertainment writer Valerie Hisam can be reached at verve@collegian.com

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