Rachel Platten has a song titled “Stand By You” and it goes – “I’ll be your eyes ‘til yours can shine And I’ll be your arms, I’ll be your steady satellite. And when you can’t rise, well, I’ll crawl with you on hands and knees ‘Cause I… I’m gonna stand by you.” Paula Kollstedt, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati, quoted that song as she addressed the throng of participants in the Alzheimer’s Walk Saturday on the campus of Shawnee State University. She was not surprised at the huge turnout.
“This is a walk that’s been going on for years and it’s grown,” Kollstedt said. “The people drive it. These are people who have experienced it, who see it in the community, who know it’s a killer and the only one without a cure. If we don’t work together to solve it, nobody will.”
Kollstedt said it is that same process that has brought cures to all other diseases and it is that process that is needed to find a cure for Alzheimers. Alzheimer’s is the worst form of Dementia. It worsens over time. It is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
Kollstedt talked about the many people who are involved in the walk and who are there for personal reasons, usually for a relative who has or is suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Kathy Owens was carrying a sign that read – “Lou’s loved ones.”
“Our mom died of Alzheimer’s,” Owens said. “We’d like to see a cure.”
The crowd of participants were carrying signs, wearing personal t-shirts, pushing people in wheelchairs, pushing their children in strollers and some even walking their dogs. The mood was somber yet friendly.
“You see this and you never want it to happen to any other family,” Kollstedt said. “I think we all feel that, including people who work with this disease. You can get this disease in your 30s or 40s. We think of it as an older persons disease, but it can happen very young in life, so we want to end it and we’ve done this with polio. We’ve done this with cancer. We have made incredible strides with heart disease and we’ve got to do it with this disease and if we don’t bring it out of the shadows nobody else will.”
Kollstedt said the money raised by the walk is for the care and the cure.
“Right now we offer care to families and individuals who have this disease,” Kollstedt said. “And we also want to end it so the rest of the money goes to research.”
Kollstedt summed up the situation to the crowd.
“There are two kinds of people with us this morning,” Kollstedt said. “Those that have been touched by the demon that is Alzheimer’s and those who will be.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.