Alzheimer’s walkathon comes to the North Olympic Peninsula

licted by the disease, it’s safe to say Alzheimer’s is an epidemic.

“It is a disease that’s growing fast,” said Nancy Dapper, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Washington.

And with the baby boomer generation aging, the disease will get worse before it gets better. According to the association’s most recent statistics, by 2050, 11 million to 16 million Americans will suffer from the degenerative disease. What many people do not know about Alzheimer’s is that it is terminal. It is the fifth-leading cause of death among men and women over 65. As of yet there is no cure.

Jan Orr knows all about Alzheimer’s. As the director of marketing for the Dungeness Courte Alzheimer’s Community, Orr works every day with patients suffering from the disease or other forms of dementia.

Orr, along with Sharon Waters of Rainshadow Home Health Services, is organizing the North Olympic Peninsula’s first Memory Walk, which will be held on Saturday, Aug. 2. Proceeds from the event will go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association, which uses the money to fund research aimed at ending the disease, as well as educating the public and lending support to patients and their families.

“A lot of times we forget about the families, but they are definitely going through a lot as far as guilt and just losing that person. There’s a lot of depression there,” Orr said. “They feel like the only ones out there and they need to know they’re not alone. They really need to know they have support.”

While a Memory Walk has been held in Silverdale for the past 13 years, raising more than $411,000, Orr says that she wanted to bring the event closer to home.

“We wanted to bring it out here because there are so many people here that are actually touched by Alzheimer’s and all forms of dementia,” Orr said.

The walk will begin at the Sequim High School cafeteria, then head south on Sequim Avenue, turning onto Washington Street. Participants are asked to make a $5 donation, but there’s no requirement.

“You don’t have to pay to walk. We just want to get the support and maybe next year make it bigger,” Orr said. “We just really want to help with the research, the education and the support groups.”

Sponsors of the walk include First Federal, Avamere Olympic Rehabilitation Center, Sherwood Assisted Living, Home Instead Senior Care, Drennan & Ford Funeral Home and Crematory, the Dungeness Courte Alzheimer’s Community, Rainshadow Home Health, the Sequim Gazette, Costco and Pen Print.

For Sequim residents who might not want to participate in the Memory Walk, but still wish to donate, paper forget-me-nots are available at Dungeness Courte and the Longhouse Deli & Market in Blyn, which will be hung up at the walk.

For more information regarding the Memory Walk or to participate, contact Jan Orr at 582-9309 or Sharon Waters at 681-6206.

First Memory Walk Saturday, Aug. 2, Sequim High School

$5 donation, proceeds go to Alzheimer’s Association

For information, call 582-9303 or 681-6206

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