Biggest crowd in 25 years joins for Alzheimer’s walk in Medina

Posted 6 September 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Sue Cook – Nicole Tuohey cuts the paper chain to start the walk. She raised money through her mother Mary Lou’s business, Case-Nic Cookies in Medina, by selling elephant cookies that added a new link to the chain. She raised the money in memory of her grandma and grandpa.

By Sue Cook, staff reporter

MEDINA – The annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Medina attracted more people this year than any other previous year. About 150 people participated in the 2-mile walk that starts in the Canal Basin. The number of teams this year doubled from last year.

This is the 25th year the organization has held a walk in Orleans County. Once the final numbers are tallied, the walk is expected to raise about $15,000, said Lynn Westcott, the director of development for the Western New York Chapter.

“We are here to raise awareness of the disease,” she said in Medina this morning. “We are also here to raise funds to help people who currently have the disease, to help people who are caregivers and to support research to end the disease.”

To add to the awareness of the disease and its impact on the community, there is a Promise Garden. The garden consists of four different colored flowers given to participants that visually show how a person is associated with the disease.

Blue flowers represent a person battling the disease. Purple is for a person who lost their battle with the disease. Yellow signifies a caregiver. Orange is for a general supporter of the cause.

Personal messages were written on the flowers.

“With this disease, the caregiver plays such a major role because as the disease progresses people tend to rely more on their support systems and the people around them,” Westcott said. “It’s so important for caregivers to be on call and around 24/7, so we like to acknowledge them and help them as best we can.”

Sherry Branciforte, along with other families members, was at the walk in honor of her father Butch. Together, they formed Butch’s Team and raised over $600.

“My dad would do this,” she said. “He did it the first three years that we knew about this and we’ve been doing it ever since in his memory. This is the second year after his passing. I would encourage people to attend support groups.They are very important. Don’t be afraid to join them. They’re a lot more helpful than you know. ”

Branciforte’s sister, Dawn Parker, added, “There’s more Alzheimer’s coming than there used to be. There’s more purple flowers here than there ever have been before. We have to stop this.”

The walkers gathered around for the opening remarks praising their hard work and dedication.

Naomi Strickland and her family were walking for her mother- and father-in-law. She was their caregiver for over three years. She was walking as part of the Fast Fitness team that had over 20 members. A couple of team members personally raised almost $1,000 each.

“It’s to bring support to a good cause,” Strickland said. “I do feel there’s a lot of Alzheimer’s in the nation and I do feel that supporting it will help. How do we know if we may end up with it? Our friends, our family, they need to have a cure for it. Losing someone that had it is sad because you grieved before they were even gone when you were taking care of them.”

The Alzheimer’s Association’s WNY chapter is beginning a support group, which will meet every second Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Hoag Library in Albion.