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Walk to End Alzheimer’s raises $17,000 locally

FORT KENT, Maine — More than one hundred people gathered at the Riverside Park Pavilion on Saturday to participate in the Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are currently 50 million people worldwide living with the degenerative brain disease, which causes memory loss and behavioral changes, and is ultimately fatal.

“It is destroying our families, our finances, and our future,” Ericka Saucier, co-organizer of the 2018 event, told participants gathered before the walk. She said the disease is costly to individuals and communities, and is financially devastating in terms of lost productivity and healthcare costs.

Several others also addressed the audience and spoke about loved ones they have lost to the disease.

Jennifer Desjarjdins of Fort Kent told the supportive crowd about the recent loss of her father, Michael Gagnon, who passed away from complications of Lewy body dementia related to Alzheimer’s, on Sept. 11, at the age of 70.

“He was a devoted husband, loving father and wonderful grandfather, a friend to so many in our community,” Desjardins said. “He was diagnosed three years ago.”

Desjardins described a discussion she had with her father five years-ago, as the two were driving back from a nursing home where Gagnon’s brother was being treated for Alzheimer’s.

“He said, ‘Oh Jen, I really hope I never get this disease,” Desjardins said. “A year and a half later, unfortunately, the disease found him.”

“We watched him every day slip away,” she said, and each time more of his mind slipped away “we lost a piece of our hearts. This disease showed him no mercy.”

When he died, the family “vowed that we would continue to fight for him and that his death would not be in vain. We will use this journey to help other people who are struggling with this.”

The event helped raise awareness and $17,000 locally for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

The top individual fundraiser for the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s was Noella Mills, who raised $4,200.

Team Rolande, walking in memory of the late Rolande Dumais, who passed away from Alzheimer’s Disease last year, was the top fundraising team this year, collecting $7,500 for the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Ericka Saucier said donations will be accepted for the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s through Nov. 30.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s Disease or donate to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s visit www.alz.org.

A video of the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s filmed by WFKTV Channel 4 reporter Don Raymond is available on YouTube.

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