Dunkirk Man Honors Mother By Joining Alzheimer’s Walk

“Unpredictable, irreversible and unfair.”

That’s how Bill Harford of ECR International in Dunkirk describes what he learned about Alzheimer’s disease when his mother was diagnosed.

“Her symptoms progressed very quickly and caught us all by surprise,” Harford said.

Harford and his family did everything they could to help their mother, including seeking expert medical treatment and reaching out to the Alzheimer’s Association Western New York Chapter.

“There are a lot of really nice and committed professionals working on both care and cure,” he said.

That interaction with the Chapter led Bill to join the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which is set for Saturday, Sept. 9 in Dunkirk’s Point Gratiot Park.

“ECR is a socially conscious company and we give back to our community. As part of that initiative we are encouraged to take part in events such as the Walk,” he continued. “Once we started the team, people began coming out of the woodwork with pledges and wanting to walk in support.”

Last year, the company team raised almost $700. This year, he hopes Team ECR Dunkirk can raise $2,000.

“You never know who you’ll inspire and where that will end, but if we do nothing, that’s what will happen. Nothing,” he said. “I miss my mom, who is sitting right in front of me, and that’s tough too.”

Participation in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is free, but fundraising is encouraged, with incentives awarded when various goals are met, such as an official purple Walk tee shirt earned when individual fundraising reaches $100. A percentage of all funds raised are earmarked for research, to ensure that one day, there will be a first survivor of Alzheimer’s disease. A higher percentage of funds stay in WNY, to ensure continuing access to free education, consultations, support and social programs for all impacted by dementia.

The Dunkirk Walk site, at the large shelter in the center of Pt. Gratiot Park, opens at 9 a.m. with snacks and refreshments, photo area, and access to basket and 50/50 raffles. A brief ceremony launches the Walk at 10 a.m. and participants will head out on the approximately two mile route at 10:15 a.m. Family-friendly entertainment will pop-up along the way, with more refreshments and snacks when walkers return to the shelter.

Participants can register on-line at alz.org/WNY/walk, by calling 1-800-272-3900 or in person the morning of the Walk.

The Walk is made possible locally through the support of several WNY companies, including WDCX Radio. Morning show host Neil Boron was the 2016 Walk Chairman.

“Five years ago, when I first got involved in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, I had no idea how much the work of the Alzheimer’s Association would mean to me personally. Now,” says Neil, “when I walk and raise funds for education, research, support, respite care, etc. I am not only doing this for the millions affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia, but for my own father as well. I had hoped to be a blessing to this organization and to people and families affected by this horrendous disease, but the truth is my family and I are the ones who have been blessed.”

These local companies also provide support for the Dunkirk Walk to End Alzheimer’s: Cellino and Barnes, Tim Hortons, Fredonia Place and Chautauqua Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Walks are also being staged at four other sites in WNY: Olean (Sept. 9), Buffalo (Sept. 16), Batavia (Sept. 23) and Lewiston (Oct. 14). Participation is open to the public at any or all sites and fundraising to reach incentive goals can continue until October 31. For more information, call 1-800-272-3900.