A walk to remember

Published 2:54 pm Saturday, September 24, 2011

Caroline and Rick Grube, along with daughter Carrie Bishop and grandson Sage, participated in last year’s Western Tidewater Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Constant’s Wharf Park. They were part of a team of more than 30 that walked in Rick Grube’s honor. This year’s walk is set for Oct. 8.

Family, friends rally around Rick Grube for Alzheimer’s walk

Through his battle Alzheimer’s disease, Rick Grube has had a great support system of family and friends.

Last year, 30 of his supporters got together and participated in his honor in the Western Tidewater Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

“Last year, we were the top fundraiser for the walk,” said Caroline Grube, his wife, who served as the team’s captain.

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Rick Grube’s family members, including Caroline and daughter Carrie joined his neighbors from Creekview, his classmates from West Point and members of the Suffolk Exchange Club as they all walked as one team and raised $7,000

This year, they plan to attend the Alzheimer’s Walk Oct. 8 at Constant’s Wharf Park and Marina, but they are choosing to honor him by dividing into separate teams to showcase their relationships to Rick Grube.

“I think we’ll have even more than 30 walking for Rick this year,” Caroline Grube said. “We’re hoping to do as much as we can.”

The four teams — Team Suffolk Exchange Club, Team Rick, Team Growing Grubes and Team Creekview — will walk to show their support for Rick Grube and their commitment to fighting Alzheimer’s.

“Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, and people need to know that,” Caroline Grube said. “It is a huge crisis for our country, health-wise.”

Rick Grube was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2004 at the age of 61, younger than the average of Alzheimer’s patients. But even before her husband’s diagnosis, Caroline Grube had experienced the pain of seeing a loved one suffer with Alzheimer’s.

Her father was diagnosed with the disease when he was 77 and battled it until his death seven years later.

Just two weeks after her father’s death, Rick Grube was diagnosed.

“It was like the floor had dropped out from underneath me,” Caroline Grube said.

At the time of his diagnosis, the couple was living in Northern Virginia, and for about a year, her husband had been experiencing forgetfulness and “fuzziness,” Caroline Grube said.

“I think he was trying to compensate for what he was losing,” she said.

Despite the shock of his diagnosis, Caroline Grube didn’t want to give up on her husband.

“I didn’t want to make the rest of his life miserable,” she said. “I really wanted to do something. Your brain goes right to the end (of the disease), but I had to realize that day was not tomorrow.”

So Caroline and Rick continued to remain active, participating in the same activities they did before the diagnosis, and he even continued to work for a year.

In 2006, the couple moved to Suffolk to leave the fast pace of Washington, D.C. But they continued to stay involved in the community and joined the Suffolk Exchange Club when it was launched last year.

When the club formed a team for the Alzheimer’s walk, Caroline Grube was named the captain.

“Suffolk Exchange Club is really committed,” she said. “I think they love Rick and have relatives who have dealt with Alzheimer’s.”

After a successful walk last year, Caroline Grube said, she hopes for an even better event this year.

She said she hopes to have as many teams out there walking as she can get and continue to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. As of Friday, she and Rick Grube are the top fundraisers for the walk, with $3,920 raised.

She encourages everyone to support the walk, because the disease affects so many people.

“I believe it’s something that you might not have been touched by, but it’s highly likely you will be eventually,” she said.

The 2011 Western Tidewater Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held Oct. 8 at 10 a.m. at Constant’s Wharf Park and Marina. There are two distance choices – 1 mile or 3 miles. You can register with a team or as an individual.

For information, visit www.alz.org and click the link to the list of Virginia walks.