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Green Bay woman honors mom's memory during Walk to End Alzheimer's

Walk to End Alzheimer's supports families
Walk to End Alzheimer's supports families
Posted at 10:40 PM, Sep 19, 2018
and last updated 2019-02-07 18:01:45-05

1,000 people are expected to participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer's this weekend at Lambeau Field. It's a chance for people like Mary Beth Balch to fight the disease that robbed her mom, Lucille, of her memory and ability to care for herself.

"She was a very energetic person who would try anything and succeed at it," she explained.

All that started to change though 12 years ago when Lucille was diagnosed with the brain degeneration disease.

"It was heartbreaking because she knew what was going to happen to her, and she would just break down crying because she knew she was going to forget us." 

Lucille, a former teacher who loved to travel, bake and garden, slowly started slipping away. 

"We had a mother but we didn't have a mom, because she wasn't her anymore," Mary Beth explained. "This was an independent woman who decided to go to college, went to college, and now couldn't even dress herself. It just hurt."

This past March, her mother passed away from the disease.

"People had said we were full of joy at her funeral, but we were because she had her memories back."

Now, Mary Beth will honor her mother's memory by participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer's this Saturday, September 22nd at Lambeau Field. Her team name is "On the Job Training" because as caregivers, Mary Beth and her father had to learn something new everyday.

Last year, the Green Bay walk raised over $110,000. Nearly a million dollars was raised with all 18 walks across Wisconsin.

"The money goes to care and support for families. Everything that we offer to families is free, so we want to be able to be out in the communities, we want people to use our help line and just to be out there helping families anyway we can and with different partners we have in the community," said Alzheimer's Association Executive Director Laurie Schill.

The funds also go to research to find a cure.

"There are no survivors. You don't survive it, and I really, really want the white flower which represents the first survivor," said Mary Beth. 

This year, she will carry a purple flower which signifies a loss to Alzheimer's.

"It's emotional, but yet it's also a day of celebration that people have one another, that we have one another to be able to share those experiences together," Schill said.

It's a day of remembrance and support.

"You share tips and how to get through this ugly disease," said Mary Beth.

They also share the hope that one day these walks won't be needed anymore.

If you'd like to take part in the Walk to End Alzheimer's, registration is at 8:00am this Saturday at the Johnsonville Tailgate Village in the Lambeau Field parking lot. You can choose between walking a one mile or three mile route.

If you can't make it this Saturday, there are more walks coming up in Northeast Wisconsin:

September 29th - Sturgeon Bay High School

September 29th - Evergreen Park, Sheboygan 

October 6th - Appleton North High School

October 6th - Moraine Park Technical College, Fond du Lac