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Walking for an end to Alzheimer's

Family among over 300 that walked in Saturday's walk at Frank Hall Park in Albert Lea

Posted: Sep 15, 2019 12:39 AM
Updated: Sep 15, 2019 6:52 PM

ALBERT LEA, Minnesota - It's a disease that affects millions of people - Alzheimer's.

On Saturday morning, about 350 people took to the pavement and walking in hopes of beating the debilitating disease, and one family is sharing their experience to others that may be affected by it.

During his 15 year battle with Lewy body dementia, Jesse Jimenez exhibited signs ranging from forgetting and hiding things, to paranoia and hallucinations.

"For me, I noticed that he wasn't reading the newspaper. He pretended he was reading. And forgetfulness," his wife Jo said.

Since his passing several years ago, his family has been participating in various walks in his honor throughout Minnesota. Thanks to massive fundraising throughout this year, the family's team Los Ochos has raised over $7,000, which will all go towards the campaign fighting the disease.

"Everybody knew Jesse, everybody knew our family. We did a lot to help the City of Albert Lea. It's one of those communities where everybody sponsored and helped and supported."

For Debbie Eddy with the Alzheimer's Association of Southern Minnesota, the fight is also personal. Her Dad fought Alzheimer's for 7 years before passing away two years ago, with obvious signs of it not showing until well into the disease.

"He couldn't remember his words, he couldn't remember my Mother. He has 9 children and started forgetting the names of his children, and he has over 18 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He forgot how to turn the tractor on, as we grew up on a farm for 45 years."

While there are medications for early onset Alzheimer's, there's nothing on the market currently for those that are well into it. But there has been a breakthrough, a blood test that can detect it, that was recently announced at the Alzheimer's Association's International Conference.

"We are working on a blood test that can detect the protein, the amyloid protein, that is the marker for Alzheimer's. But that's years down the road, probably 3-5 years. But that's closer than we've ever been."

For those that may be unsure on who turn to to ask for help, looking for the signs or simply needing someone to talk with, the Jimenez family have open ears.

"It's amazing how many people that you run into that are going through a similar situation. Once they know that you have experienced it, they feel comfortable coming to you and talking about it."

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