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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Organizers planning Walk to End Alzheimer's

  • Bonnie Grossnickle, Erie, has been doing some research, gathering statistics for the speech she will make  Saturday as honorary chairman for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

    However, she knows the disease from a much more personal standpoint.

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  • Bonnie Grossnickle, Erie, has been doing some research, gathering statistics for the speech she will make  Saturday as honorary chairman for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
    However, she knows the disease from a much more personal standpoint.
    “My mother has it, her mother had it, Grandma’s sisters had it and my great-grandmother had it,” Grossnickle said. “Now when I can’t remember something, I wonder.”
    Registration for the walk will begin at 9:30 a.m. at Immigrant Park, Second and Broadway. Grossnickle will make her speech during opening ceremonies at 10:15 a.m.
    She said that, as she looked at the statistics, it seemed to her that Alzheimer’s is becoming more common as people live so much longer than they did in the past.
    “There are 5 million Americans living with Alzeheimer’s now, and one in three seniors die from it,” Grossnickle said. “An American develops Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds, and by 2050 they think that number will increase to an American developing the disease every 33 seconds.”
    She said that it was about 20 years ago that her mother, Margaret Hodgden, St. Paul, began displaying symptoms that something was going wrong.
    “She would do a lot of repeating of herself, and her organizational skills were leaving her,” Grossnickle said. “She was a woman so talented and gifted in every way, and to see these things leaving her was so hard.”
    At the time, Grossnickle and her husband Max were living in northwest Iowa, farming and teaching school. They met while attending college at McPherson, and have four children and four grandchildren.
    “We began talking about whether we would expand our farming operation, but  finally decided to sell out and move back here to help take care of my mother and my aunt,” Grossnickle said. “We bought my grandfather’s farm between Erie and Galesburg, which has been in the family for 100 years. We’ve been here 17 years now. We have some cattle, and Max says he has enough chores to remember how many more chores he had back in northwestern Iowa.”
    She said that her husband earned a master’s degree from Pittsburg State University and taught school in the area.
    “I taught  at McCune for a while,” Grossnickle said.
    The couple lived very near her mother, took in her meals and checked frequently. However, in 2004, they decided that Hodgden just wasn’t able to be at home any longer.
    It was not an easy decision to make.
    “I had a lot of emotions, a lot of  guilts,” Grossnickle said. “We put her in the Prairie Mission Retirement Village, and I can’t say enough about the care she receives. She actually improved when she got in the nursing home. They love her and tease her, and she teases them back. She still hasn’t lost her sense of humor. Sometimes I go there and she doesn’t know who I am, or thinks I’m her sister. Other times I believe she does know.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Hodgden is 93 now and takes very few medications.
    “Her body is strong, but you know what’s coming, what’s going to happen,” Grossnickle said.
    She said that she’s started doing some volunteering at the nursing home.
    “I try to cheer these folks along, and I’ve seen a lot of them come and go,” Grossnickle said. “I have a heart for them.”
    That’s part of why she agreed to be the walk honorary chairman. She’s seen enough of Alzheimer’s and will gladly do whatever she can to end the disease.
    “I guess I’m supposed to start off the walk,” she said. “I’m not a power walker. I’ll make the two miles, but I’ll probably come in last.”
    A new feature at the walk will be a zumba-thon at 11 a.m., and zumba sessions costing a $5 donation.
    “I’ve never done zumba before, and they probably will have do that without me,” Grossnickle said.
    The Walk to End Alzheimer’s will also include children’s activities, a silent auction and Freddy’s Frozen Custard. Following the two-mile walk with be a celebration, including an awards ceremony, zumba-thon and a benefit lunch, also costing $5 per person. Walkers raising $50 or more will qualify to receive an event T-shirt while supplies last, and those raising $500 or more will qualify for additional prizes. Online registration is availabl;e at alzwalkseks.org.
     
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