Wendy Bond of Lake Oswego remembers a time when she didn't know how to spell Alzheimer's. She also remembers her son referring to the disease as "old timers" — that is how he heard the word. But that was 26 years ago, and Bond and her family are much more knowledgeable now about the disease.
Motivated by seeing her grandmother and then her mother suffer from Alzheimer's, followed by her aunt and uncle, Bond is preparing for the 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer's taking place Sept. 10 at Portland International Raceway. She invites all to join her in the walk, and take the first step to a world without Alzheimer's.
Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide, the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's is the world's largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's care, support and research. This inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to join the fight against the disease.
According to the Alzheimer's Association website, alz.org, when you participate in a walk, your fundraising dollars fuel their mission, and your participation in the event helps to change the level of Alzheimer's awareness in your community.
The website shares this information about Alzheimer's:
n In the United States, someone develops Alzheimer's every 66 seconds.
n It is the only cause of death in the Top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed.
n Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's disease are women.
n One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another dementia.
n Alzheimer's disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
n More than 5 million Americans are living with the disease.
n There are more than 15.9 million caregivers of people with Alzheimer's and other dementias in the U.S.
n In 2016, 15.9 million caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $230.1 billion.
n In 2017, Alzheimer's will cost the nation $259 billion. This number is expected to rise to more than $1 trillion by 2050.
Bond said when her mother was stricken with Alzheimer's she didn't know what to do or where to turn, but luckily made her way to the Alzheimer's Association. There, she found support and education.
"I took a class series and cried all the way through it the first time," she said. "I took it a second time to gain the information."
Now a board member of the Oregon chapter of Alzheimer's Association, she says the organization provides a 24/7 Help Line (800-272-3900), plus face-to-face support groups and educational sessions. They provide programs for caregivers as well, like the Stress Busters class held at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
"This is a hard journey," she said. "And it's important to realize you are not doing it by yourself."
And that's why Sunday's Walk is so important. Now in its 26th year, Bond's team Wendy's Walkers, includes people she doesn't even know. It has grown beyond her family and friends walking to honor her family. The group also includes dozens of friends walking to honor their family and friends.
"It's that power of the people that is inspiring," she said. "And the passion of those willing to help."
The Walk to End Alzheimer's will take place at Portland International Raceway, 1940 N. Victory Blvd. in Portland. Registration begins at 10 a.m. with live music playing from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The opening ceremony beings at 11:45 a.m. and the walk begins at noon. The route length is 1.96 miles, or once around the track.
All are welcome to attend; there is no registration fee.
"Alzheimer's disease is relentless. So are we," reads the tagline on Bond's email. Bond invites all to join her team and walk with her Sunday. Visit http://act.alz.org/site/TR? Or just show up at PIR Sunday.