Bellevue West hosts walk for Alzheimer’s

Melissa Irish, Co-Editor-In-Chief


Filmed and Edited by Amiya Johnson and Jenna Hammond

About 550 people mingled by the football field on Aug. 26 under a sunny sky.  Young children toted about giant purple flowers, dogs trotted excitedly on the ends of their leashes, and elderly women chatted amicably about what was about to happen.  All of these people had gathered together for one purpose: to walk as a way to demonstrate support for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

The charity walk was put together by Walk To End Alzheimer’s, which is part of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Walk To End Alzheimer’s is the world’s leading event for Alzheimer’s care and research support,” organizer Elizabeth Chentland said.  “We rally over 600 communities in the United States and internationally to fight Alzheimer’s disease by raising money for research, for care, and for support.”

Bellevue West was chosen as the location for the walk for a variety of reasons.

“Bellevue West has been a huge supporter of the Alzheimer’s Association,” Chentland said.  “We really wanted to make sure we had a good space for everyone to walk, and it doesn’t hurt that the Bellevue West colors include purple, which is our signature color.”

The staff was impressed by the grounds and how Bellevue West treated them.

“We’re just so happy to be here at Bellevue West,” organizer Cathy Bickerstaff said.  “We’ve had your JROTC students help us in the past, we’ve had the Key Club help, and now we’re at your own campus and it is really nice.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting over five million Americans.  Those affected will lose memory and if it progresses far enough, basic skills as well.  Not only is the disease difficult for those affected, but also for their loved ones.

“It was hard, especially with my mother,” Bickerstaff said.  “She couldn’t carry on a conversation with us anymore or talk about things that were going on at the time.  She would bring up things from the way past, and we’d just have to stay with her where she was.”

An assisted living worker present at the walk was able to provide some advice on how to respond to a loved one being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

“Don’t overreact, make sure you get all the medical advice you can, take all the steps that you can to try to keep the disease as low-progressing as possible,” participant Bill Droegemeier said.

Although there has yet to be a cure for the disease, people retain hope.

“I just think that if they do further research into the brain stem cells and things that they might be able to locate the source and fix the problem before it becomes a big problem,” Droegemeier said.

Bickerstaff also believed that there will eventually be a solution to the disease.

“I think we will find the cause and the cure,” Bickerstaff said.  “I don’t know when, but we are hoping by 2025 we have at least one of those.  Whether we’ll find the cause first or the cure I don’t know, but those young girls standing up there, I hope no one in their generation ever has Alzheimer’s, dementia, or any of the other terrible dementia disorders.”

The walk at Bellevue West raised approximately $55,000 to go forward to research and support.

“I wish the best for everyone who has it and those who get it,” Droegemeier said.  “I was cured of cancer, so hopefully they can be cured of Alzheimer’s.”