Hundreds participate in Walk to End Alzheimer’s
Marybeth Jamieson never dreamed that her husband of 21 years, Cliff, wouldn’t be with her to participate in their second Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
When he died in May, she knew she had to get out and walk anyway.
“I know it’s only been four months since Cliff passed, but we had to be here,” the 55-year-old Struthers woman said. “You have to do it for the other people that are going through this.”
Jamieson and dozens of her friends and family members were among hundreds of people who met Saturday morning in Boardman Township Park for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater East Ohio chapter’s annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. It’s the agency’s largest fund-raising event, and this year’s goal was $56,000, said Helen Paes, development director. Last year’s goal was $42,000.
“Every year we do better,” Paes said. “The trend is upward because the need is growing. Nearly 50 percent of all Americans know someone who has Alzheimer’s, so this is a public health issue that needs to be addressed.”
She said Alzheimer’s is the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death, affecting some 5.4 million people nationwide. There are about 60,000 Alzheimer’s patients locally.
Cliff Jamieson, a former elementary math and science teacher in Struthers, was in his early 50s when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, forcing him to retire from his job. He had also been a sports coach in Struthers, Liberty and Girard schools.
Last year, he and Marybeth formed a team and took part in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the first time. They’d planned to do it again together this year, but the disease took him away sooner than anyone had anticipated. He was 56.
“He got sick in March, and from March to May it was just steadily downhill,” Marybeth said. “To see someone you love, a spouse, going downhill and losing their dignity like that... it’s sad.”
She said her husband’s greatest fear was that he would eventually not recognize his family, but it never got to that point.
“He didn’t want to live like that,” she said.
Despite the way Alzheimer’s ravaged his health and robbed him of his memory, Marybeth said Cliff never once complained and always maintained a positive outlook.
“Cliff had a good life, and I learned so much from him about enjoying life,” said Marybeth, 55. “I hope I am that courageous if anything like that ever happens to me.”
Read more in Sunday’s Vindicator