2020 Southern Tier Walk to End Alzheimer’s looks different | WETM

ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM-TV)–The 2020 Southern Tier Walk to End Alzheimer’s will take place on Oct. 17, raising awareness and funds for dementia care, support, and research.

The Walk, which attracted more than 600 participants and raised over $60,000 in 2019, will look different this year. Instead of hosting a large gathering, participants will walk as individuals or in small groups of friends and family on sidewalks, tracks, and trails in their communities across the Southern Tier region. 

A virtual pep rally for participants was held on Sept. 17. Kevin Deihl, volunteer chair of the 2020 Walk to End Alzheimer’s and director of business operations at Horseheads-based Visiting Angels, and Scott Free from WINK 106 FM hosted the inspirational event. Deborah Danko of Elmira shared the story of her father, Jim Lynch of Corning, who is living with dementia. Gail Valentino of Dansville talked about losing her mother Jacqueline Withers, getting involved in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and, in the last three years, becoming one of the top fundraisers for the event. 

On Walk Day, Oct. 17, at 9 a.m. the event will be delivered to participants’ smartphones, tablets, and computers. It will feature more local speakers joining together to fight dementia.

On the same day, Oct. 17, a group of volunteers will create the iconic Promise Garden to honor all those impacted by dementia in a “view only” and “drive-by” format. The Promise Garden will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Wisner Park on North Main Street in Elmira. Participants will honor those affected by dementia with blue, yellow, purple and orange flowers, highlighting the different reasons people take part in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

The Southern Tier Walk to End Alzheimer’s is supported by National Presenting sponsors Edward Jones and CVS Health (or Aetna/Omnicare), local presenting sponsor Hilliard Corp., supporting sponsor Visiting Angels, community partners Gough Holding Corp. and Wallin Insurance Agency, Grand Champion sponsor Guthrie, and Promise Garden sponsor Bethany Village.

In New York State alone, there are more than 400,000 people who live with the disease and more than 1 million caregivers who provide unpaid care to their loved ones with dementia.

To register and receive the latest updates on this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, visit: alz.org/walk.

Deborah Danko’s Story (Elmira)

A former oncology nurse, Deborah Danko of Elmira works as a case manager at iCircle. Her father, Jim Lynch, is 82. About three years ago, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Lynch worked at the A. & P. and then as a correction officer. He volunteered for the Wranglers Band, drove veterans to their appointments at the VA, and delivered Meals on Wheels. “My father was the life of the party with his big Irish smile. All of that has changed. He has stopped volunteering, going to church and driving,” said Danko.

In the last few months, Lynch’s disease has progressed very quickly. He is currently receiving hospice care in his home. Danko’s mother Louise Lynch and her younger brother Jimmy Lynch are his primary caregivers.

Last year, Danko joined the volunteer planning committee for the 2020 Walk to End Alzheimer’s. On October 17, her family and friends will be participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the first time. “Thank you all for your advocacy on behalf of families like ours. Thank you for raising funds for dementia care, support and research,” said Danko.

Gail Valentino’s Story (Dansville)

Gail Valentino of Dansville lost her my mother, Jackie (Jacqueline) Withers, in 2017. Withers passed away at the age 79, after living with Alzheimer’s disease for four years.

“My mother was a vivacious, strong, independent woman. She first started to manifest serious symptoms in 2013, but in hindsight, I realize there were earlier symptoms. My family and I worked hard to keep her in her own home. Unfortunately, she was admitted to a nursing home in 2015. In some form, she still knew us for about the last year of her life, but, most everyone else she ever knew, were strangers to her, and she had no memories, whatsoever, of the life she had lived,” said Valentino Valentino in her video tribute to Withers.

This is Valentino’s sixth year participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. “While I have donated time and money to other charities, this cause is my passion! I could never have imagined how difficult caring for my mother would be, watching all of the memories slowly eradicate. Finding a cure for this disease is so important to me,” said Valentino. To date, she has already raised almost $3,000 for Southern Tier Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Walk to End Alzheimer’s®

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. Since 1989, the Alzheimer’s Association® mobilized millions of Americans in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk®; now the Alzheimer’s Association is continuing to lead the way with Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s. 

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