Family, friends walk with purpose at Sarpy County Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Published: Oct. 17, 2021 at 6:02 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Sunday morning, more than 250 people walked around Prairie Queen Recreation Area for the Sarpy County Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

The disease impacts 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 it as normal as we could, whatever that looks like when you have Alzheimer’s or dementia, but you know, we didn’t cry, we didn’t sulk. We made lemonade out of the lemons and so that was our goal, was to try to make him feel comfortable,” says Parker about her father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Her father, Joe Wellman, passed away from the disease in 2017, several years after his diagnosis.

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

But that’s not the only reason.

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

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

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

“I had a decision,” she says. “Was this going to be a depressing time or was I going to make this a time that was joyful for him? Cause I knew he was scared, he knew something was wrong but he didn’t quite understand.”

Even after her dad’s death, parker kept coming back.

She now spends her days working with others who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia.

For others who are impacted by the disease, Parker says she wants them to know they aren’t alone in their journey.

“Often times when this diagnosis comes, it isolates people and we need to educate people to let them know that they dont have to be afraid of this diagnosis, that there are resources out there that can help along the way, and we need to love on these people.”

Finding a support system is key, Parker says. She recommends visiting the Alzheimer’s Association for those who may be new to the disease, as they can help connect people with local resources.

“It’s so easy to be drug down and I’m not going to lie to you and say there weren’t days that were harder than others because there certainly were, but I had great support from my family and friends and most importantly God got me through it. He got me what I needed especially on those days that were really hard.”

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

“It brings us one step closer as we raise awareness and money to find a cure, I mean, that is ultimately the goal,” she says.

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