Walk to End Alzheimer’s to raise awareness, offer hope to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease | MyWindsorNow.com

Walk to End Alzheimer’s to raise awareness, offer hope to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease

Kelly Ragan
kragan@greeleytribune.com

Cindee Gierhart missed the early signs of cognition impairment in her mom. But when she forgot to pay her bills, Gierhart knew something was up.

She didn't realize it until her mom was diagnosed, but Alzheimer's has a history in both sides of her family. Looking back, she realized her grandparents had Alzheimer's, too. The adults dealt with it then.

After a year of crying every day in the shower, she still bursts into tears out of fear of the disease. She has to deal with it now.

"I get moments where I'm completely frightened," Gierhart said. "There are times I'm scared for my children. You never imagine telling your kids that their kids might have to deal with (Alzheimer's)."

Indeed, that first step was talking to her kids, ages 20, 18 and 14, about the disease and its early warning signs so they wouldn't be caught off guard the way she and her siblings were by her mom's illness, forcing them to scramble to prepare their mother, and themselves, for a new life.

Gierhart, of Pierce, learned about the Alzheimer's Association and the Walk to End Alzheimer's last year while she visited her grandmother at Fairacres Manor nursing home. When she did, she knew she had to take part.

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She plans to go to the walk this year, which kicks off at 8 a.m. Sept. 30 at Bittersweet Park, 35th Avenue and 16th Street.

Ashley Flores, development coordinator at the Alzheimer's Association Colorado Chapter, said the walk will raise awareness about the disease in general, the support available and maybe offer some hope for the future.

There will be opportunities to remember and celebrate loved ones lost to the disease, Flores said. Folks will get different colored flowers to carry in the crowd to represent how the disease affected them.

"I want everyone to leave with hope," Flores said. "Hope has to be our driving force."

Proceeds from the walk allow the Alzheimer's Association of Colorado, 918 13th St. Unit 1, to provide services to folks with an Alzheimer's diagnosis, families and caregivers at no cost.

This year, the association hopes to raise $52,000 at the walk in Greeley.

Gierhart takes it on herself to raise awareness about Alzheimer's on her own, too. She doesn't want others to be blindsided like she was, so she does what she can to bring it out into the open. It's important, she said, especially in the Latino community such as hers where families often don't discuss health issues.

With Alzheimer's, it's important to have a plan, Gierhart said, because most people aren't ready for it financially. It becomes harder if they ignore it and put it off.

Gierhart keeps an eye on new research. She knows people are searching for a cure. She hopes they find it in time — if not for her, for her children and theirs.

"I'm a mama bear fighting for my kids," Gierhart said, "and also for myself, my sister and brothers."

— Kelly Ragan writes features and covers health for The Greeley Tribune. Have a tip? Want to share your story? Call (970) 392-4424, email kragan@greeleytribune.com or connect on Twitter @kelly_raygun.

About the event

What: Walk to End Alzheimer’s

When: 8 a.m. Sept. 30

Where: Bittersweet Park, 35th Avenue and 16th Street

For more information on the Alzheimer’s Association or to register for the walk, go to https://act.alz.org.

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