Alzheimer's Walk continues to raise awareness of disease

PLATTSBURGH Year after year, the community continues to walk until a cure is found for Alzheimers disease. The weather cooperated last Sunday as the Alzheimers Disease Assistance Center hosted its annual Alzheimers Walk at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh Field House. The event was attended by several hundred people, walking in supporting of finding a cure for and prevention of the debilitating disease. Alzheimers center director Dr. Taher Zandi said the communitys support and financial sponsorships of the walk are how advancements are made in understanding Alzheimers. I truly believe without the help of the community, we would have never been where we are, said Zandi. Weve taken baby steps in raising funds, but by doing that we are supporting family members and seven support groups in the tri-county area. We have respite programs for family caregivers and the most impressive diagnostic services in the region. On the national level, funding for Alzheimers research has helped developed two new drugs that Zandi believes will be approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the next four years. Those drugs, he said, will be able to attack the disease and be the first steps toward a cure. The need for a cure is imperative, said Zandi, as 5.5 million people in the United States alone have Alzheimers, with an estimated 10 million expected to be diagnosed with the disease by 2010. This is a very serious problem in our nation, said Zandi. Weve got to be prepared for assisting this huge population. Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey, R-Peru, one of the featured speakers at the event, recalled reading The Reagan Diaries, the published writings of former President Ronald Reagan, who developed Alzheimers late in his life. What a brilliant and wonderful president we had and to think what Alzheimers did to him, its scary, said Duprey. I think it scares all of us; we know that it can reach out and tap any of us. Alzheimers, as all of you know, knows no boundaries when it hits a family, Duprey added. The impact it has, not only on the patients themselves, but on the whole families, is just astronomical. Duprey said she understands the effects a disease can have on a family; her grandson has autism and since his diagnosis she has become an advocate for awareness of the genetic disorder. Stanford University in California has been on the forefront researching a cure for and way to prevent Alzheimers, said Duprey, which could also be useful in fighting autism. Ive got to tell you that in the next few years, we will see both spectrums have a cure, have a prevention and how exciting it will be and how satisfied each and every one of us will be to know that every step we take here today and every dollar we donate here today and throughout the year is going to be a part of that process. Continuing with the tradition of opening the event with a special family cutting the ribbon, Lillian Cramer of the town of Lewis, had the honor. Cramer was joined by her daughter, Sandy Hammond, and granddaughter, Carlee Hammond. While Cramer herself does not have Alzheimers, her family has known others with the disease and has supported finding a cure and promoting awareness.

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