- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Some walked for parents; some walked for grandparents; some walked for spouses; Janet Blundell walked for herself.
At Saturday’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Asbury-Solomons Island, Asbury Director of Wellness Dennis Poremski called the event the largest the retirement community ever had seen.
The walk was one of two happening on Saturday in Southern Maryland the other was held at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf and one of about 600 walks nationwide.
Poremski explained the Asbury walk was open to anyone who wanted to walk and probably contained 500 walkers going around the 1-mile Asbury campus.
One of these participants was Asbury resident Blundell, who was also a speaker at the event’s kickoff ceremony.
Blundell estimated that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about two and a half years ago.
“It’s been awhile. ... I’m still around,” Blundell said, adding, “I’m glad it didn’t rain today.”
When it came to how she’s coping with her disease, Blundell said she takes it one day at a time.
“When they tell you you have something they can’t do anything about you just live with it and that’s what I do,” she said.
Poremski said Asbury-Solomons had been holding numerous fundraisers for the walk for the past year including bake sales, a car wash done by Asbury managers and Papa John’s Pizza fundraisers.
He said that the two Southern Maryland walks were estimated to raise a combined total of more than $100,000.
“We had people who personally raised thousands of dollars,” Poremski said, adding that there was no minimum donation or amount of money that needed to be raised to walk on Saturday.
Lusby resident Bob Ketner was recognized for raising $4,535 with the help of his family, golf and square-dancing leagues; he walked Saturday for his wife, Grace, who has had Alzheimer’s disease for the past 12 years.
“She can do nothing on her own anymore. She has to have someone feed her ... the whole nine yards,” said Ketner, who walked Saturday with his daughter, granddaughter and two great-granddaughters.
His great-granddaughter, Ashley Anderson, 10, of Prince Frederick, said on weekends she’d sometimes visit Grace at Solomons Nursing Center for lunch.
“Sometimes I can understand what she says and sometimes I can’t,” said Ashley, who remembered her great-grandmother once being well enough to come over to her house. “It was when I was much younger and we put on plastic fire hats and my mom took a picture.”
Ketner said his family had participated in the walk for about four years.
“We sent out a personal letter with my wife’s picture asking for donations and they keep coming,” Ketner said.
Asbury resident Joan Holmes said she had multiple reasons for volunteering at the walk.
Holmes explained that her grandmother had Alzheimer’s back when it was usually called “dementia” and of her grandmother’s seven children, the five children who lived past 70 all had the same condition.
One of these children was Holmes’ mother.
“That’s a pretty strong family history,” Holmes said, continuing that when her mom started showing symptoms of the disease her personality remained the same. “She was sweet and easy to be around. ... My grandchildren adored her; she didn’t remember their names, but she doted on them.
“It was nice not to have to deal with the anger. ... I had one aunt who just got very angry. I think it was out of fear.”
Poremski said the walk is a 15-year tradition at Asbury-Solomons and this year included numerous vendors, donated food and appearances by Sen. Roy P. Dyson (D-Calvert, St. Mary’s, Charles), Calvert County Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt (R), Miss Maryland Allyn Rose and the Patuxent High School cheerleading squad.
“It was really wonderful just how our community came together. ... It’s literally impossible to do events like this without help like that,” he said.