Greenville walk Saturday seeks to raise Alzheimer’s awareness


By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 10:03 am on Friday, September 07, 2012

Last year’s Alzheimer’s Walk, sponsored by Green Acres Retirement Living, brought in about $7,000. Organizers are hoping to raise $10,000 at this year’s event on Saturday. Pictured, Mary Ceccanese and her mother, Lucille Gunderson, took last year’s trophy for raising the most money for individuals. — Courtesy photo

GREENVILLE — Local organizers of an Alzheimer’s walk, scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, are hoping to raise as much as $10,000 with this year’s effort.

That’s a fairly lofty goal, considering the fact this is only the second year Green Acres Retirement Living has sponsored the event in Greenville.

According to Green Acres Life Enrichment Coordinator Karen Dillon, the facility decided to host the walk because staff see Alzheimer’s effects on a daily basis and want to do something to help the effort to find a treatment.

“(Green Acres Administrator) Sue Hoeflinger and I were talking about how Alzheimer’s affects all our daily lives, especially our Green Acres friends and family,” Dillon said. “We called the Alzheimer’s Association and asked if we could join their walk, but they didn’t have one in the area, so we asked if we could get one started.”

Dillon and her fellow organizers quickly put together a walk with the cooperation of the Montcalm County Commission on Aging, the Alzheimer’s Association and several other area senior service providers.

About 65 walkers turned out for the first event, raising about $7,000. The effort was so successful that the Alzheimer’s Association decided to recognize the event as a national walk.

“Working together, we really got the ball rolling,” Dillon said. “Green Acres is the major sponsor, but there are many other area senior service providers who help out. We do a lot of planning.”

Raising funds is only one of the organizers’ goals. Increasing Alzheimer’s awareness also is a major objective.

“People don’t realize that one in eight people over 65 are going to suffer from Alzheimer’s related illness at some point,” Dillon said. “Many are going to die from it. This (walk) is a very needed thing in the community.”

Alzheimer’s Association Program Coordinator Rachel Bontje, who works in the group’s Grand Rapids office, expressed satisfaction at how quickly the Greenville walk has come together.

“It started small but we’re definitely starting to grow it,” Bontje said. “At present, it’s the third largest walk overseen by the West Michigan office of the Greater Michigan chapter.”

The Grand Rapids walk holds top honors, with about 800 walkers annually. A walk in Holland, Mich., follows closely behind.

Registration for Saturday’s event begins at 10 a.m. at the Greenville Area Community Center, 900 E. Kent St.

For more information or to pre-register, call Green Acres Retirement Living at (616) 754-8850 or register online at act.alz.org/montcalmcounty.

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