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Walking to end Alzheimer?s

Almost 100 people participated in Waupaca County’s first Walk to End Alzheimer’s Sept. 24 in Waupaca.

The Waupaca County Caregiver Coalition spearheaded the effort to bring the walk here. The three-mile walk began and ended at Bethany Home, with 11 teams participating.

Preliminary numbers show that slightly more than $6,000 was raised for the Alzheimer’s Association. The association is the world’s largest funding source for Alzheimer’s research.

“I think it’s fabulous,” Kathleen Albert said of the turnout for Waupaca County’s first walk.

Albert, an outreach specialist for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Wisconsin Chapter, said the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

“It is the only disease of the top 10 with no cure and no medication to slow it down,” she said.

A total of 5.4 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s Disease. More than half of all Americans know someone who has it.

Every 69 seconds, another American develops the disease. A year ago, someone was diagnosed every 70 seconds, Albert said.

She said that by the time someone reaches age 85, he has a 50 percent chance of developing Alzheimer’s. One in eight Baby Boomers will develop it.

Diana Butz, development and marketing director for the association’s Greater Wisconsin Chapter, said the disease costs this country’s health-care system $186 billion per year.

Funds and research are needed.

She said people can enroll in clinical trials. Information about TrialMatch is available on the association’s website: www.alz.org.

Walks to end the disease have been taking place throughout the country this month.

September is “World Alzheimer’s Month.” The Greater Wisconsin Chapter has 32 walks taking place this fall.

Each walk is community driven, organized by volunteers. Locally, they have already committed to holding another walk next year in Waupaca.

“We can’t do it alone,” Butz said. “The two barriers to finding a cure are funds and people to participate in research studies.

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