A walk for those who suffer

Alzheimer’s Memory Walk event returns to Liberty State Park this coming Saturday

Many of the thousands of people who plan to participate in the 2nd annual Alzheimer’s Association Liberty State Park Regional Memory Walk in Jersey City this coming Saturday, Oct. 30 (starting at 10 a.m.) will do so to remember a loved one or an acquaintance stricken by the debilitating Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is an incurable neurological disease, whose symptoms in the early stages include difficulty recalling recently-observed facts. When the disease progresses to later stages, symptoms include confusion, irritability, aggression, mood swings, and language breakdown.
Alzheimer’s disease is considered the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and it is estimated by medical expects that someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease every 70 seconds. By the mid-21st century, it is estimated that someone will develop Alzheimer’s disease every 33 seconds.


“I think a lot of people who are participating are either directly affected or have someone in their lives who are.” – Ken Zaentz

The Chicago-based Alzheimer’s Association estimates that as many as 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, including over 350,000 New Jersey residents.
The upcoming walk is a three-mile trek through the park, with participants in teams raising money through sponsorship by corporations, small businesses, and individuals. Participants will enjoy food, entertainment, prizes, and special appearances by John Elliott of WCBS Channel 2, Paul “Cubby” Bryant of radio station 103.5 KTU, and singer/songwriter Loretta Hagen. Sponsors include Genesis HealthCare, TD Bank, Accenture, LLP, OritaniBank Charitable Foundation, and Provident Bank Foundation.
Marianne Alfano, co-chair of the Liberty State Park Regional Memory Walk Committee and administrator for Atrium at Hamilton Park Assisted Living in Jersey City, said it is her daily work at the downtown Jersey City medical facility that drives her and her fellow Atrium employees to take part in this endeavor.
“There are 24 people in our secured memory care unit at the Atrium suffering from Alzheimer’s, and I feel for them and their families because they are like my own family,” Alfano said.

Walking to remember

Ken Zaentz, vice president of development for Alzheimer’s Association Greater New Jersey Chapter, said $875,000 is the goal for the event, with participants having an individual goal of $110 or more. The walk is one of four memory walks in New Jersey that take place during the fall.
He also expects a larger crowd than last year’s walk in Liberty State Park, since that was the first year for the event. And the walk isn’t just about the people afflicted by the disease.
“I think a lot of people who are participating are either directly affected or have someone in their lives who are,” Zaentz said. “Let’s not forget the caregivers, who play an important role in helping those with the disease.”
Zaentz said in the United States, an average of $172 billion is spent on healthcare bills for patients with Alzheimer’s because of the amount of care needed, since it is a condition that, in many cases, gets worse.
Zaentz also looks at the walk as an opportunity to raise money for research for a cure.
Marianne Alfano said she expects a larger contingent from last year, with contributors including members of the Jersey City Fire Department, the Hoboken Fire Department, and students from St. Peter’s College. She credits that to the committee working with her in organizing the walk, which includes residents from Jersey City, Secaucus, and other Hudson County towns, most of whom have family or acquaintances with Alzheimer’s.
Anyone who wants to take part in the walk can call (201) 261-6009 or visit www.alz.com. Registration starts at 9 a.m., with the walk to follow at 10 a.m.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com.

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