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Saturday walk to benefit Alzheimer’s Association

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SACKETS HARBOR — Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that makes people regress, and there is no cure.

That’s why the Central New York chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is asking for support for its annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Sackets Harbor Central School, 215 S. Broad St.

“There is so much about the brain that we don’t know, which is why we do events like the walk,” said Julie K. Darling, associate development director for the CNY chapter.

Thirty percent of funds raised go toward research to find a cure, while 60 percent of the proceeds stay local to offer support services and programs. The rest goes toward overhead costs.

According to the National Institutes of Health, Alzheimer’s disease is “an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest task.”

Russell Booth, 62, Antwerp, knows all too well about Alzheimer’s. He was a caregiver of a good family friend for 13 years before she moved into a nursing home last year. Mr. Booth said he has participated in the local Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the past decade.

“You don’t see survivors,” he said. “I believe eventually we will find a cure to it, maybe not in our lifetime, but our children’s or grandchildren’s lifetime.”

So far, he has raised $1,700 for the walk. According to the association’s CNY chapter website, $10,935.58 of the walk’s $36,213 goal had been raised as of Tuesday.

Mr. Booth said people can leave most jobs after an eight-hour workday, but being a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s is around the clock. That is the life Lillian Stevens is living with her husband, Leon, but she said she wouldn’t have it any other way. She has been his caregiver for the last five years.

“We try to do the best we can for him,” said Mrs. Stevens, 88. “I do everything — I dress him, I lay his clothes all out and get him out of bed in the morning. It’s hard for him to try to even walk, and he complains his back hurts.”

She and Mr. Stevens, 89, of Pamelia, have been married for 28 years. She said he still knows who she is, so she will continue to care for him, with the help of a home health aide and family members close by.

“As time goes on, more and more I can see him turn into a baby,” she said. “I don’t want to see it, but I’m here for the duration. We’ve had a wonderful life. We used to travel all over the country.”

Mrs. Stevens said she appreciates people who make an effort to contribute to the walk or participate in it because she, too, hopes for a cure. For more information on the walk, visit http://wdt.me/8dRQu9.

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