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Family and friends walk with determination at the Sarpy County Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – On Sunday morning, more than 250 people walked around the Prairie Queen Recreation Area for the Sarpy County Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease.

The disease affects more than one in nine Americans, especially those over the age of 65.

For Pam Parker, like so many others, the walk is personal.

“We tried to make things as normal as possible, no matter what it looks like when you have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but you know, we weren’t crying, we weren’t sulking. We made lemonade from the lemons so that was our goal, it was to try and make him comfortable, ”Parker explains of his father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Her father, Joe Wellman, died of the disease in 2017, several years after his diagnosis.

Every year Parker, his family and friends walk for Joe and continue to raise awareness about the disease.

But it is not the only reason.

“I also walk for the people I work with,” she says.

Parker works at Hillcrest Mable Rose, an assisted living facility and a memory care facility.

The same facility where her father, Joe, lived and received care, and where she visited him every day.

“I had a decision,” she said. “Was this going to be a depressing time or was I going to make it a happy time for him?” Because I knew he was scared he knew something was wrong but he didn’t quite get it.

Even after his father died, Parker kept coming back.

She now spends her days working with others with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

For others affected by the disease, Parker says she wants them to know that they are not alone on their journey.

“A lot of times when this diagnosis comes in it isolates people and we have to educate people to let them know that they don’t have to be afraid of this diagnosis, that there are resources that can help along the way, and we have to love over these people.

Finding a support system is key, Parker says. She recommends visiting the Alzheimer Association for those who may not be familiar with the disease, as they can help connect people with local resources.

“It’s so easy to get high and I’m not going to lie to you and say that there haven’t been more difficult days than others because there certainly have been, but I have had great support from my family and friends and more importantly God got me through it, gave me what I needed, especially on the days that were really tough.

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease is important to millions of individuals and families like Parker’s.

“It brings us a little closer as we raise awareness and fundraise to find a cure, I mean that’s ultimately the goal,” she says.

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