MOSES LAKE — “We all have a reason why we are here today,” said deejay Dale Roth, prior to the start of the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s Saturday morning.
For Vickie Skeeskick, Debbie Hoilman and Doris “Boots” Matzen, the reason is Bunny Taylor.
Bunny is Vickie’s sister, Debbie’s sister in law and Boots’ daughter. They all wore badges with Bunny’s picture.”That’s her when she was a baby,” Boots said.
Before the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Bunny was great to be around. “Oh, (she was) fun loving,” Vickie said.
“She was a blast,” Debbie said.
“Loved to cook, was a good decorator,” artistic, Vickie said. Bunny’s husband was a teacher, and kids and faculty at school knew her too.
But Alzheimer’s stole all that. Bunny was in a car accident, and six months later was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Alzheimer’s. She has been in an extended care facility for about five years.
So the family comes out each year to walk — Boots uses her wheelchair — to raise money for research into the disease, and to raise awareness of it. And along with those goals, it’s also a way to lessen the sense of isolation that can come with a family member diagnosed with dementia.
About 250 people attended the Moses Lake walk Saturday morning, walking a three-mile course starting and finishing at Moses Lake High School. Leslie Woodfill, one of the organizers, said the Moses Lake chapter set a goal of $50,000 for 2019. As of Saturday the teams had raised about $41,000.
Alzheimer’s takes a toll, said Javon Ixchiu, who works at an extended care facility and was there as part of that team. Alzheimer’s patients lose their memory, but “there’s so much more,” she said. Both patients and their families need support, she said.
Woodfill has personal experience with toll Alzheimer’s and related diseases can take on families. Woodfill’s mom was diagnosed with a variant of Alzheimer’s, dementia with lewy bodies, which produces hallucinations and symptoms similar to Parkinson’s Disease. Her mom battled the disease for 10 years, and her dad sold his business to care of his wife. Family members, including Woodfill, helped out on weekends, and provided care so her dad could take a break. Finding help through the Alzheimer’s Association was a big relief, she said.
Donations for the 2019 walk will be accepted through the end of the year. People who want to donate can go to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s website, act.alz.org/columbia basin.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at email@example.com.