An Alzheimer’s diagnosis can cast a devastating blow.
As the only leading cause of death without a way to prevent, cure or slow its progression, Alzheimer’s can signify an ending—but it doesn’t have to.
In September 2012, after 12 years of long-distance friendship and romance, Michael Folio and Cheryl Levin tied the knot. It was to be a fairy-tale ending, culminating in a hand-in-hand sunset stroll along forever’s picturesque beach. But by December, Michael, 57, was exhibiting uncharacteristic behavior, confusion and forgetfulness, and, after several tests and scans, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Folio, a former Home Depot executive, and his wife, 53, of Highland Park, vowed to take a positive and proactive approach to the fight against Alzheimer’s. Levin-Folio joined the 2013 North Shore Walk to End Alzheimer’s committee, and she has already raised more than $12,000 to support the cause.
“I looked at [Michael’s diagnosis] and said, the more knowledgeable I was, the more I could help my husband—help us—beat this,” Levin-Folio says. “We got involved with the Alzheimer’s Association because of my need to know as much as I could.”
“Michael wanted to crawl into a hole. I look at the glass as if it’s overflowing—half-full isn’t enough for me. Change and growth are inevitable. If you embrace those two, things will get better. They have to.”
What: The Walk to End Alzheimer’s North Shore is an annual 3-mile walk to promote treatment and research for the Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to a meaningful tribute ceremony to those affected by Alzheimer’s, the event features advocacy opportunities and information on support programs and services of the Alzheimer’s Association. The walk, held in 600 communities nationwide, is the largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Since 1989, it has grown to more than 39,000 teams nationwide, with donations surpassing $50 million.
Where: Gallery Park, Patriot and Navy boulevards, Glenview
When: Saturday, Sept. 21, 8 a.m. registration
How: Register to walk as an individual or team through the event website.
The organization: Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, affects memory, thinking and behavior in an estimated 5.2 million Americans. It is the nation’s sixth leading cause of death.
The Alzheimer’s Association, formed in 1980 by Jerome H. Stone in conjunction with the National Institute on Aging and representatives from several family support groups, reaches millions of people affected by Alzheimer’s across the world. With local chapters, a professionally staffed helpline, more than 4,500 support groups, educational resources and a clinical trial database, the association works to enhance care and support for Alzheimer’s patients and their loved ones. Additionally, the organization is the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research and the leading voice for advocacy for the disease.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s Chicago takes place September 29 at Montrose Harbor. The Libertyville event is scheduled for October 5 at Independence Grove. For more information, visit the Walk to End Alzheimer’s website.
Make It Better is a proud media sponsor of this event.
Photo: Participants from the 2012 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Glenview.