Forget Me Not Walk brings hundreds to Cascades Park
By Cedrell Mitchell
All of the signs were there that something was changing about her mother, but Bonnie Fowler just wasn’t sure what.
“It was gradual (transition) but we started noticing strange things like she would wear five dresses or one day she was trying to take a paper towel and dry it on the oven,” said Fowler. “We would ask her what is my name, mom, and she would say my precious my darling but darned if I know.”
Eventually it became clear that her mother was suffering with Alzheimer’s. An estimated 5.5 Americans suffer with the disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Also known as Senile Dementia, the disease stripes away memory and other cognitive functions.
This past Sunday, Fowler was among the hundreds of Tallahassee residents dressed in purple participating in the “Forget Me Not Walk” at Cascades Park. The Alzheimer’s Project stages the event annually to bring awareness to the disease.
Fowler, whose real estate agency was one of several sponsors of the event, has seen it all. Soon after she and her family moved her mother out of the live-in seniors’ home, the situation rapidly fell apart.
Fowler suddenly found herself serving as a caregiver before her mother succumbed to the disease 25 years ago.
Since then, awareness has heightened and resources have become more plentiful.
“Twenty-five years ago, there weren’t any resources like this,” she said. “I would get involved with the Alzheimer’s Project. They have support groups and a project called life saver that provides bracelets for wondering patients with Alzheimer’s and Autism.”
Explaining that the disease could also take a toll on caregivers, Fowler said having a sense of humor and learning to laugh could be one way of coping. Having a support base also helps, she said.
During Sunday’s event, participants walked around the paved path in the park twice, while angelic singers played the guitar. Along the path there were chalk-written notes such as one that read: “Memory issues, we can help.”
The walk is the brainchild of Debbie Moroney, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Project.
“I really liked the mission of the organization so when I was searching for something new to do,” she said, “I became involved with the project and I have learned a lot about Alzheimer’s and how difficult the caregiver journey is.”
The walk, which has become the largest fund raiser for the Alzheimer’s Project, brought in $80,000.
“I feel as if I am walking for a great cause,” said Maria Bracther, a Capital Health representative. “I am helping someone get better by raising money.”