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Walkers raise funds for Alzheimer's research

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    Wilma’s Walkers were the winners as the largest team participating.
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    Bill’s Team poses for recognition as the runner-up in their fundraising effort. Funds raised will contribute to more study and research for Alzheimer's.
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    Bill and Myrna Thiessen were honored as the honorary family for the fifth annual Bastrop/Fayette County Alzheimer’s Walk.
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    Brenda Zimmerman of New Hope Respite prepares to walk.
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Smithville held the fifth annual Bastrop/Fayette County Alzheimer’s Walk on Saturday.

Several participants gathered for the two-mile walk, which was sponsored by Alzheimer’s Texas at the Towers’ Nursing Center. The organization, which was established as a non-profit in 1982, provides information, referrals and a variety of support programs for those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their family members, caregivers and professionals. All funds raised are used to research and develop awareness of the disease. Christian Wells and Taylor Minks of Alzheimer’s Texas headed up the effort along with the Towers Nursing Center staff and many volunteers, organizations and sponsors from both Bastrop and Fayette Counties.

Texas ranks second in the nation in the number of deaths attributed to the illness. Over 400,000 Texans have been affected to date by dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Honorary Family members Bill and Myrna Thiessen were applauded for their efforts in promoting the event. Bill, 85, and his wife Myrna also celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary during the event. Myrna was the top individual fundraiser and Bill’s Team placed second in the team category.

Brenda Zimmerman of New Hope Respite in Smithville, who recently won the Five Who Care award for her efforts, participated in the event along with other teams and individuals. Individuals like Heather Ambrose, a Smithville resident, and others like Wilma’s Walkers wore t-shirts honoring and memorializing family members who had been affected by the illness.

“I am well aware of the connection between some forms of Alzheimer's and general health," Ambrose said. "I know that a healthy diet, exercise, and keeping one's brain active and engaged are helpful. Over the last year I've lost about 90 pounds and have improved my health through diet and exercise. This is my first 'walk' since the weight loss and I am proud to be walking in memory of my mom, Barbara Dowdel.”

Organizers hope to continue their efforts by advocating for more research and development programs in combating the illness. Continued funding is needed, and donations can be sent to Alzheimer’s Texas. Visit their website www.txalz.orgfor more details.