Hundreds walk to end Alzheimer’s

Published 5:01 pm Saturday, September 19, 2015

About 300 people participated in the Western Tidewater Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Constant’s Wharf on Saturday.

About 300 people participated in the Western Tidewater Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Constant’s Wharf on Saturday.

More than 300 people came together to “stomp out Alzheimer’s” on Saturday morning at Constant’s Wharf.

Many of those in attendance were there because they have lost a relative or friend to the disease. Participants carried color-coded flowers to denote their relationship to the fight against Alzheimer’s, and purple — the color that meant the carrier has lost someone to the disease — was by far the most common.

Jenel Foskey, in attendance with her mother as well as several other relatives and friends, carried a purple flower and a banner for her father, James Crump. He died of Alzheimer’s earlier this year.

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Other colors of flowers were present, too. Ray Cicirelli carried a blue flower, meaning he has Alzheimer’s. His wife, Peg Cicirelli, carried a yellow flower, meaning she is caring for someone with the disease — in her case, her husband.

“Your participation gives me and others with Alzheimer’s or other dementias hope,” Ray Cicirelli said during the opening ceremony.

He expressed concern about his three children, who have the disease on both sides of the family, he said. He was diagnosed in 2010.

“A cure or prevention is my dream,” he said.

Peg Cicirelli shared her story as well, as did Barbara Chapman, whose father died of Alzheimer’s after 10 years, and 11-year-old Hannah Smith, whose great-grandmother and grandfather both had Alzheimer’s.

Mayor Linda T. Johnson, the honorary chair of the walk, encouraged those present to look forward to a world without Alzheimer’s by reminding them that polio once was a feared disease but was eradicated.

“It’s now something we used to have,” she said. “We want it to be the disease our children don’t have to worry about getting. We’re going to stomp out Alzheimer’s.”

Gino Colombara, president and chief executive officer of the local Alzheimer’s Association chapter, said the event continues to grow every year.

“That’s evidence of the urgency of the cause,” he said.

The event surpassed its $41,200 goal by raising $46,473 so far. The fundraising deadline is Nov. 30, so the grand total will be even higher.

The top team was Memory Movers, with $14,670 raised, and the top individual was Margaret Cobb, with $2,280 raised.