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Walk to End Alzheimer's raises awareness and dollars

10/22/2012

By ABBY BELDEN

abelden@dailynews.net

Jenny Dixon's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at age 55.

"It is what you would call early onset Alzheimer's," Dixon said.

Now, her mother is stage six or seven.

Stages six and seven are severe, with severe cognitive decline -- mid- to late-stage Alzheimer's.

After Alzheimer's is diagnosed, there are seven stages a patient's diagnosis can advance to, worsening with each stage.

Dixon, Hays, said her mother still is at home, but the advance of the disease in her mother hasn't been easy.

"It's been hard to watch it," she said. "It just robs who you are. She's still my mom; she still remembers me and she remembers my son, but there are some days that are good and some days that are bad."

On Saturday, the Alzheimer's Association hosted the Walk to the End Alzheimer's.

During the opening ceremony, a moment of silence took place for those with the disease and those who have died.

"I think the opening ceremony helped people realize the importance of why we are raising money for a cause," said Jan Evans, outreach coordinator for the Alzheimer's Association's Central and Western Kansas office.

According to the Alzheimer's Association "Alzheimer's by the Numbers," 5.4 million Americans have the disease, and a quarter of a million are younger than 65 years old.

The participants could walk either inside Gross Memorial Coliseum or outside.

Evans said the event raised more than $8,000, which will be put toward Alzheimer's research and public presentations.

She said approximately 85 people attended this year's walk, which is more than last year.

The walk not only had an increased number of participants, but also offered support and a positive outlet.

"It's been pretty hard, but this is one of the few things I've been able to do that makes me have a happiness about this whole disease," Dixon said. "I am just so touched by all the people that are supporting us."

At the closing ceremony, Evans presented the team and individuals who raised the most money an award and a traveling plaque.

The Red Hot team, which was Dixon's team, received the traveling plaque for most money raised, as they collected more than $2,000.

Dixon received the award for top individual who raised the most money with more than $1,000.

Dorothy Stieben, Hays, attended the walk as a member of Dixon's team, which had approximately 10 to 12 people.

Stieben said she raised $200 through asking friends, families and coworkers.

She said she was excited about participating in the walk.

"I just think that we need to find a cure for this terrible disease, and an event like this can raise money," she said. "That money will hopefully find a cure."