Alzheimer’s walk is personal for founders

Published 2:12 am Thursday, September 15, 2016

This year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s is set for Sat., Sept. 24, in Opp.  Courtesy photo

This year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s is set for Sat., Sept. 24, in Opp.
Courtesy photo

Alzheimer’s alters the course of life not only for the 5 million plus Americans who suffer from the disease, but the lives of friends and family as well. It couldn’t be more true than this past year for Wes and Deidra Laird, who helped start and have served as co-chairmen for the Lower Alabama Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the past five years.

“My mother, Anelia Laird, started falling at home early this year, resulting in fractures and hospitalization, then a stay at Florala Health and Rehab. She recently returned home, where she requires 24-hour care,” Wes Laird said. “My grandmother, Willie Bell Holloway, passed away last month after four-and-a-half years at Florala Health and Rehab. She helped raise all of us in the family, and extended family, and will be greatly missed.

“While my mom has had Alzheimer’s for over 14 years, my grandmother had only had it about half that time,” he said. “It created tremendous stress on my grandmother when mom was diagnosed because she couldn’t understand how it could skip her, since her mother died from it.”

Thanks to the work of the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as the sponsors and thousands of volunteers who walk each year, funding for research has been increased and more and more is known about the causes and potential treatment. And care givers everywhere can receive much needed support and information.

“The local walks provide opportunities for people to discover they are not alone in dealing with Alzheimer’s,” said Deidra Laird, who has spearheaded a team of committee members that include many others who have dealt with this terrible disease. “It is also an opportunity to learn about valuable resources, such as the tremendous service the Pilot Club of Andalusia provides in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Office to furnish tracking bracelets.”

“Through the work of Deidra and her team, and heightened support from the Alzheimer’s Association this year, the Lower Alabama Walk is on track to break all records in participants, sponsors, and fundraising this year,” Wes Laird said.

Sponsors this year include Edward Jones, PowerSouth, Wiregrass Electric, Gitty-Up-N-Go, Southern Independent Bank, Carr, Riggs & Ingram, Outlaw Realty, J.M. Jackson Chevrolet Buick, Laird, Baker & Blackstock, DJ Connection, Andalusia Health, Andalusia Manor, and The Pilot Club of Andalusia.

The Fifth Annual Lower Alabama Walk to End Alzheimer’s is set for Sat., Sept. 24, at Lake Frank Jackson State Park in Opp. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the two-mile walk at 9 a.m. The walk is along beautiful nature trails that have been blazed by the Opp Trailmasters.

“Participation in the walk is up as well and we are leading the South Alabama-Florida Panhandle Region,” Mrs. Laird said. “We already have 20 teams and about 120 members signed up to walk with us! But there is still time to become a part of this year’s walk. You can form a team of your own or sign up to walk on a team at”

For more information, contact Mrs. Laird or one of the committee chairs, Samantha McDaniel, Whitney Young, Tammy Adams, Meredith Brunson, or Mary Alice Outlaw.