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SMC students fight Alzheimer’s

Alison Winstead | Monday, October 3, 2011

Saint Mary’s College hosted its third annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s Saturday and teamed up with local colleges and the South Bend community to raise nearly $18,000 to find a cure for the disease.

For some Saint Mary’s students, like junior Katie James, the event was personal.

“I participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in remembrance of my grandmother, who suffered from the disease for over 10 years,” she said. “To truly make it a commemorative day, I wore red lipstick and munched on fruit snacks — two things my grandmother always seemed to have handy in her purse.”

The one-mile walk, which was hosted by Saint Mary’s Office for Civil and Social Engagement (OCSE), raised $17,842 in donations for the organization, which will be used to fund the research for a cure, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Junior Kelly Roepke, OCSE’s student director and coordinator of the walk, said the walke was a great opportunity for Saint Mary’s to come together as a community.

“The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is one of my favorite [campus] events — it’s about uniting as a community to remember the loved ones we’ve lost to the disease and to come together in hopes of eliminating it in the future,” she said.

Roepke also had a grandmother affected by the disease and said it was inspiring to see take action with her College community.

“Witnessing the onset and development of Alzheimer’s as it affected my grandmother was heartbreaking, so to come together and take action as a SMC and South Bend community has been empowering,” she said.

Registration for the event began promptly at 11 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies at 11:30 a.m. outside of Dalloway’s Coffeehouse. The walk began at noon.

Participants included students from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Holy Cross College and people from the surrounding South Bend community. Each participant that raised $100 or more was given a Memory Walk T-shirt.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s began in 1989. Since then, the walks have been raising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and money to fund the search for a cure.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the country, according to the Association’s website.