Thousands raised for End Alzheimer’s Walk

Published 12:16 am Sunday, October 23, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez High students participate in the 2011 Walk to End Alzheimer’s Saturday morning at the Natchez Bluff. More than 100 supporters participated in the event.

NATCHEZ — Participation and money raised at the second annual Miss-Lou Walk to End Alzheimer’s doubled Saturday, as 110 men, women and young people in purple trotted downtown sidewalks to raise awareness of the disease.

Co-organizer Alicia Havard’s team, the Natchez High Dance Masters, was out in full force.

“They were raring to go,” Havard said.

More than $7,000 was raised to support Alzheimer’s education in Mississippi.

While most of the walk participants walked their six required laps and went on with their Saturdays, Natchezian Cheryl Conway was on her 13th, with no signs of stopping. For Conway, the walk had personal significance.

“My grandfather, Willie Collins, had Alzheimer’s,” Conway said. “It’s a disease that affects the whole family. It’s very sad.”

Conway, who is an instructor and Beta Club advisor at Natchez High, said it doesn’t seem like that long ago when communities didn’t have abundant access to Alzheimer’s information.

“So when Ms. Havard extended the invitation to the Beta Club, we jumped on it,” Conway said.

She said 22 Beta Club students registered for the walk.

A pinwheel garden of sorts was planted on the lawn by the gazebo Saturday morning, with colorful, spinning flowers that represented different aspects of Alzheimer’s effects. Blue was for dementia, yellow was for caregivers, purple was for those who died from the disease and orange was for support.

With twice the participation compared to last year, co-organizer Pam Frank, who’s mother-in-law Sandra is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, said next year will be even better.

“We’re hoping to triple it,” Frank said.

Organizers have said they would like the walk to be as much a part of the Miss-Lou community as Relay for Life.

Cathedral students were on-hand as volunteers.

Awards were presented to teams at the opening ceremony. Students of the Natchez-Adams County School District raised the most money. The NHS Dance Masters were awarded second place, and the third team to raise the most money was Magnolia House.