Alzheimer’s Walk has special meaning for Clear Lake couple

by Marianne Gasaway

When the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is held in Mason City on Saturday, Trudi Hoil will be there.

On Walk day, participants honor those affected by Alzheimer’s with the poignant Promise Garden ceremony — a mission-focused experience that signifies solidarity in the fight against the disease. The colors of the Promise Garden flowers represent people’s connection to Alzheimer’s — their personal reasons to end the disease.

Trudi walks in support of her husband, Terry, who was diagnosed with the disease about five years ago.  In addition to raising funds to support Alzheimer’s research, she also sees the event as a way to offer her thanks for the assistance and resources which have helped her to navigate a life very different from what she once envisioned.

“I’ve been dealing with it for almost five years, but two years ago I became involved with the North Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and it has been extremely helpful,” said Trudi. “Life is so different and you go through so many emotions — but then there is the reality of it, too.  Handling daily life can be so challenging.”

Trudi explained that in April 2020 the difficult decision was made to move Terry from their Clear Lake home to the Good Shepherd Memory Care Unit in Mason City.  She credits a support group for caregivers and family of loved ones living with Alzheimer’s or dementia with helping her identify resources and better understand issues related to Alzheimer’s.  The group is led by trained facilitators Michael and Connie Wentworth, from Mason City, who share advice and resources.  Trudi said she appreciates being able to talk with others going through the same things she is.  “We give our updates and discuss what we might need help with.  The people there have really been a God-send to me.  They are there to give emotional, as well as practical support,” said Trudi.

The group meets from 6-8 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month at Kentucky Ridge in Mason City. Interested persons can register for it by visiting the Programs Event Calendar at alz.org/iowa. 

At Saturday’s walk Trudi said she will be distributing Promise Garden Flowers and welcoming participants, including some of her own family members who are coming from nearby as well as greater distances.  Their participation has helped her far surpass the $500 goal she had hoped to meet for the Walk.  

“I’m almost to $5,000 now,” she said Monday.  “I raised about $2,000 last year, so I was hesitant to ask people to give again, but it turned out people were asking me when the Walk was and were wanting to give.”

Participants have the option to walk from home or gather at NIACC beginning at 8 a.m. Walkers who choose to walk from home can download the Walk to End Alzheimer’s app to participate through augmented reality and activities.

This year, the Alzheimer’s Association has already surpassed their goal and raised almost $34,000 for the North Iowa Walk to End Alzheimer’s, according to Lauren Livingston, Communications director for the Alzheimer’s Association, Iowa Chapter.  The money raised will help the Association provide care and support to families in Iowa, while also advancing critical research toward methods of treatment and ultimately a cure.

More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease – a leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, more than 11 million family members and friends provide care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In Iowa alone, there are more than 66,000 people living with the disease and 73,000 caregivers.

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