We arrived at Liberty Park expecting to see a crowd, but instead saw four people and a dog. We joined Chuck and Helen Hannaford from Slater, Penny Braun and her dog Victoria, and Joetta Coen from the Mid-Missouri Chapter. Jim and I were the only two people from Sedalia.
Our small group walked through downtown Sedalia with Helen blowing her hunter’s horn while we collected donations from business owners, passersby, and from members of the VFW.
I haven’t missed a Sedalia walk since 1998. The name of the walk has changed to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and the location has changed, but the mission is the same: A World Without Alzheimer’s.
After the 1998 walk, Joetta Coen asked me to chair the next walk. I remember telling her that if I could get my family to walk, we would have more people. My fantastic committee members grew the 1999 walk to more than 100 participants.
Between 2000 and 2019, participation ranged from 200 walkers to a high of 444. Then, the pandemic hit. In 2020, to avoid a large gathering, the Alzheimer’s Association announced a “Walk Everywhere” event. It didn’t take me long to decide that Jim’s Team would walk the original 1998 route.
Walk Everywhere was a trip down memory lane. With my arthritic knees, the walk was more of a challenge than it was the first time. We stopped and rested on the steps of the beautiful public library. The 2020 walk made me feel closer to Jim, and in its own way, brought our journey full circle. It was a stark reminder of how personal and important the walk was for my family and me.
Lord willing, September 17th will be my 25th walk. A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that I am the only person in Sedalia who will reach that milestone this year. Some of my family members are not far behind me. I plan to poll them and find out who will reach the 25th walk milestone next year or in the next few years.
Jim’s Team has also been the most consistent fundraising team in Sedalia. We weren’t the best fundraising team every year, but we’ve always been in the top three. Over the years, our team has brought in more than $70,000 in the fight to end Alzheimer’s, and to support families dealing with dementia.
The Sedalia Walk is Jim’s legacy. He was the sole reason that our family became involved in the Walk, and our inspiration to continue. I often hear from people who never knew Jim while he was living, but still feel a connection to him.
My first blog post, Indelible Mark, (January 19, 2008), came straight from my heart: “When Jim developed dementia at forty-nine, we knew life would never be the same. Our memories eventually became my memories. The disease stole Jim from me, but it could not steal the indelible mark he left behind.
“In the end, instead of erasing Jim, dementia ensured he would never be forgotten. His two pictures on the cover of Alzheimer’s Anthology of Unconditional Love are indelible images of Jim. In one picture, he smiles from beneath his favorite Stetson. In the other, he walks away from the camera on a beach in Oregon. I can’t imagine his indelible memory living in a happier place.”
To register or donate to the Sedalia Walk click www.alz.org/sedaliawalk
Copyright © August 2022 by L.S. Fisher