BANGOR, Maine — Kathy Haslow of Bangor and Deborah Robinson of Tremont spent one of their “sister days” on Saturday helping raise awareness of — and money to end — Alzheimer’s disease, an affliction affecting an estimated 37,000 Maine families, including their own.
Haslow and Robinson took part in the Eastern Maine Walk to End Alzheimer’s in memory of their grandmother, who died from the disease at the age of 85, they said.
“It is such a terrible disease,” Haslow said she and her sister neared the waterfront, where the walk began and ended.
The two walked as part of the Sunshine’s Fitness Family team, which with about 60 members was the largest to take part this year.
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Led by Bangor Zumba instructor and fitness trainer Sunshine Gannuccelli, the group raised nearly $2,000.
Gannuccelli also has brought together teams for the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and Bangor Color Run held in support of the American Folk Festival and other area causes.
“Once I get involved, then they get my heart and I take the rest of the way,” she said Saturday. “It humbles me and astounds me how much we can get involved if we look for it.”
Saturday’s walk raised an estimated $130,000 and involved about 800 people, Kathleen Olsen, team recruitment chair, said Saturday afternoon.
Formerly held at Hollywood Casino Hotel & Raceway, the annual Alzheimer’s walk moved this year to Bangor Waterfront.
The 2.5-mile route took participants through both downtown Bangor and neighboring Brewer, Olsen said.
While most of the Alzheimer’s walks she has participated took place on rainy days, Saturday’s weather was sunny and cool.
The Maine chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association serves an estimated 37,000 families affected by Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, according to its website.
The Alzheimer’s Association says that more than 5 million Americans are living with the disease and that as many as 16 million are projected to have it by 2050.
The cost for caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is estimated at $236 billion in 2016 and is expected to increase to $1.1 trillion, in today’s dollars, by mid-century.
Nearly one in every three seniors who die each year has dementia.