It's estimated that 4.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's Disease, costing America at least $100 billion annually. And over 5,000 of the people suffering, live right here in our area. Russell Smith is a volunteer at VMRC. He's been the top fundraiser for the Memory Walk for the past three years, raising $5,000 this year. "It's a fantastic cause and my wife died of a form of Dementia, she didn't have Alzheimer's. It's a little close to me and a lot of my friends have had it," says Participant Russell Smith. Russell says he just happened to see a flyer for the walk three years ago and decided to get involved. Some attend the Memory Walk because they provide care for those with the condition. Robert Hueston's wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer's three years ago. "We only have four rooms so if we misplace something, we only have four places to look, four rooms to look, which is real nice. If we had a big ten, twelve room house, it might be a real problem," says Caregiver Robert Hueston. Experts say if a cure is not found soon, it could affect our economy. "A disease, which if a cure isn't found, by the time the baby boomer's and their majorities start aging to 55 will bankrupt the healthcare system in the united states," says Central/Western VA President Larry Zippen. "The disease is so awful, it can go on for 20 years where a person loses a page of their life everyday until the end, there's nothing there, but they're still alive," says Zippen. Thankfully, many of those living with or around those with the disease are staying positive. "I've been taking care of the cooking and the house cleaning and we're still surviving, even though I'm doing it, so any who, we're getting along real well," says Hueston.
All of the money raised for the Memory Walk will go towards the local chapter. There are seven memory walks around the area including one in Lynchburg on September 25 at the Peakland Baptist Church and one in Charlottesville on October 1 at the Park at UVA. Last year the Central and Western Virginia Chapter raised almost $300,000.