When teams of walkers take to the Maryville College campus April 27 for the Alzheimer’s Tennessee Foothills Walk, they will do so for moms and dads, brothers and sisters, friends and strangers alike in hopes of one day finding a cure.
The kickoff luncheon for the annual walk was held Friday afternoon at The Showroom at Five Points in Maryville, a new venue. Co-chairs for the 2019 walk, Edward Harper and Brian Tuggle, were present along with representatives from Alzheimer’s Tennessee, including Executive Director Janice Wade-Whitehead.
Tuggle and Harper, senior services coordinator at Blount Memorial Hospital, were instrumental in getting the Foothills Walk started here years ago. The walk, Harper said, is about the people affected by the cruel disease that strips away the memory, but it’s also about the money.
“Money buys care,” he told the crowd. “Money buys medicine. And money buys research.”
The goal in all of this, Harper added, is to “make Alzheimer’s a memory.”
Tuggle is owner of Personal Care Choices and said 60 percent to 65 percent of his business clients have dementia-related illnesses. This is a cause that touches so many lives in the community, he said.
with the disease
According to Wade-Whitehead, there are 120,000 Tennesseans living with Alzheimer’s. The 2018 Foothills Walk raised $121,000 for research and support for Alzheimer’s patients and their families. The goal for 2019 is $126,000 and for more than 650 walkers to converge on MC’s campus.
She said each year, teams get very creative with ways to raise money. One church team makes homemade tamales, Wade-Whitehead said. Others hold spaghetti suppers or ice cream socials. A lot of the money raised is done so one dollar at a time, she said.
Thanks to corporate sponsors, a total of $59,077 already has been donated.
Robert Redwine, president of the board of directors at Blount Memorial Hospital and another longtime supporter of Alzheimer’s Tennessee, addressed the crowd and shared a memory that has never left him. He said he walked in that first Foothills Walk and met a man who was in his 40s. That young man had Alzheimer’s.
“He was about the same age as me,” Redwine said. BMH also has been on-board with the Foothills Walk from the beginning.
Tom Hatcher took the stage to talk about his charity golf tournament that raises money for Alzheimer’s Tennessee each year. Hatcher said so far, the charity has contributed $110,000 to the cause. The 2019 golf tourney will be held July 19 at Lambert Acres.
The event raised $70,000 last year, and Alzheimer’s Tennessee was awarded $22,000 of that amount. The 2019 goal is $100,000. Hatcher said there is room for 70 teams and more sponsors.
“Gunner” of WIVK-FM is yet one more of the community leaders responsible for getting a walk started here. He said there are other organizations in the area that help Alzheimer’s patients and their families, but Alzheiemr’s Tennessee stands out, he said.
“If people get confused about who we are, just tell them ‘We are the local folks,’” Gunner told the crowd. “That’s what Alzheimer’s Tennessee is all about. We are the local people.”
Tom Bogart, president of Maryville College, expressed his gratitude for being a part of this annual event. MC basketball coach Randy Lambert was the chairman of the walk for years. “You were probably hoping for coach Lambert today,” he said, as Lambert was in Ohio preparing his team for NCAA tournament action.
State Rep. Jerome Moon gave an update on House Bill 37, which will establish an Alzheimer’s Disease State Plan, he said. There are 13 members working on that committee.
A Sock Out Alzheimer’s day will be held March 8. Alzheimer’s Tennessee supporters are encouraged to wear orange houndstooth socks. They are available on Alzheimer’s Tennessee’s website at www.alzTennessee.org/shop. In addition, the fourth annual Purple Gala will take place Aug. 9.
Those who sign up to walk in the Foothills Walk will have the chance to earn prizes, including T-shirt, photo frame and sweatshirt. Walk organizers encouraged everyone present at the kickoff to start spreading the word and get teams organized.
Alzheimer’s Tennessee holds walks in several communities. The Foothills Walk combines the efforts of Blount, Loudon and Monroe counties.
“For more than 35 years, Alzheimer’s Tennessee has not only encouraged you to walk but also be an advocate,” said Amanda Armstrong, “sharing the need for more research funding. We hope you will join us in making the message loud and clear about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”