Last year, Alzheimer’s rocked a Valley City family when Patti Schaeffer, a mother of three, died of the disease seven years after she was diagnosed at 52.
Now members of Schaeffer’s family will share their story at Saturday’s Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
“Everybody knows somebody who’s affected by it and there needs to be more money and awareness to stop it,” Schaeffer’s daughter Sarah said.
The Schaeffer family, the event’s 2015 honorees, will talk about Patti Schaeffer at the 9:30 a.m. opening ceremony at Medina High School at 777 East Union St. before joining several hundred participants for the 2.5-mile walk.
Development Coordinator Stephanie Mueller said participants should register at the school at 8:30 a.m. and join the walk through the Forest Meadows Apartment development.
Last year the walk attracted about 400 participants, she said.
“It increases each year,” she said, expecting between 400 and 500 walkers.
The walk draws people who have Alzheimer’s as well as people who are supporting Alzheimer’s research, Mueller said. The walk also gives people who are caregivers a chance for some relaxation, she added.
“It kind of gives them a break and a way to celebrate,” she said.
The annual walk is one of more than 600 such events nationwide sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association to raise awareness and funds for research. Mueller said Alzheimer’s is an area of research that often receives far less money than cancer or heart disease causes.
“Right now there’s not any real treatment,” Mueller said. “While there are some drugs out there … they just treat the symptoms.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed Alzheimer’s as the sixth-leading cause of death among adults, with 84,767 people dying of the disease in 2013.
Last year, the National Institutes of Health, one of the world’s most prominent medical research facilities, funded $562 million in Alzheimer’s study, a far smaller amount than cancer or cardiovascular disease research and also less than diabetes, the seventh most common cause of death, which received just over $1 billion.
Registration for the walk is free but participants are encouraged to create teams and find sponsors, Mueller said. She said some teams have raised $100 and a few have raised much more.
“We have some teams in the $2,000, $3,000 range,” she said.
For the first time, the walk has formed a partnership with Feeding Medina County to collect cans for the organization’s Staples for Seniors program. The program provides fresh produce, meat and non-perishables to 390 seniors in the county.
Mueller said some of the people who have signed up also have collaborated with local businesses, such as the Applebee’s restaurant in Medina, to raise money. The walk’s raffle will include prizes donated by local businesses and a children’s area will have displays of balloons and crafts.
“It’s just a way to show our support for the community,” Mueller said.
Messages may be left for Elizabeth Dobbins at (330) 721-4065.