If you can walk ...

Walks and runs held this weekend for good causes

Friday, Sept. 17, 2010

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Walkers took to the track around Regency Furniture Stadium for a Relay for Life event June 11. The stadium will host two charity walks Sept. 18 and 19.

With the weather cooling down, it's the perfect time of year for a walk. Good thing there are plenty of local charity events to choose from this weekend that will have residents reaching for their running shoes.

The 12th annual Alzheimer's Association Memory Walks in Southern Maryland will be Sept. 18 in Waldorf and Solomons.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at both locations, with opening remarks at 9:30 a.m. and the walk at 10 a.m. The Solomons walk will start at Asbury-Solomons Island. The one in Waldorf will be at Regency Furniture Stadium at 11765 St. Linus Drive.

Last year the walks attracted about 611 participants, said Linda Gottfried, the regional director for the association in Southern Maryland. Organizers are anticipating the same amount this year.

At the stadium, walkers have the option of doing one mile on the field level or walking on the concourse for up to three miles.

Gottfried said the walk — the association's major fundraiser — is an opportunity for community members not only to walk in memory or in honor of a family member or friend with Alzheimer's, but to raise awareness about the disease that affects one in every six Americans.

"It's a silver tsunami. Imagine a dining room table with six people around it," Gottfried said. "There's a chance one of them could end up with Alzheimer's."

And research shows that only one in 10 cases of Alzheimer's is hereditary, she added.

"Just because you don't have it in your family, doesn't guarantee you won't get it," Gottfried said. "One in ten. Do you really want to take that chance?"

Research is being conducted all over the world, Gottfried said. But progress is slow going because funding just isn't there.

"We're an advocacy group," she said. "And one of our advocacy priorities is to get more funding. We're seeing earlier and earlier onset [of Alzheimer's], it's going to be devastating. For years people didn't want to talk about it, they were embarrassed."

By bringing attention to the cause and the years of research still to do, the association wants to advocate for current victims and the potential future ones.

"[Researchers] are looking for ways to slow the progress," Gottfried said. "Ultimately the goal is to find a cure."

The association does more than raise money for research. It offers training to professionals and caregivers and has a lending library for anyone who is dealing with the disease or wants to find out more about it.

In addition to the walk, the day will include children's activities and door prizes.

Building fun

When the Rev. Todd Crofford, pastor of Real Life Church in Mechanicsville, was looking for ways to raise money for the building fund, parishioner Tracy Ambos took the idea and ran with it … almost literally.

Ambos, a 5K runner for about 10 years, suggested holding a 5K walk/run. It was surprisingly easy to build up a committee of about 19 members. Armed with advice from other 5K organizers, Ambos began planning. The church will hold the run Sept. 18 along Three Notch Trail in Mechanicsville.

In addition to raising funds for a building fund (the church was formed in 2008, meets at the parish hall at Immaculate Conception Church in Mechanicsville and hopes to have a building of its own in about three years) the event will serve as a meet-and-greet for folks interested in the church.

"It's an opportunity to become familiar with Real Life," said Hughesville resident Ambos, whose husband, Dave, is also a runner. "It's an awesome church, and it's definitely a community church that's very diverse."

The run isn't just for the hardcore. The route was laid out with children in mind — there are no street crossing — and can be completed by beginners.

"We looked at it from different perspectives," Ambos explained. "From beginners to serious runners … what would [they] need? We have an encouragement committee, believe it or not. At every mile marker we'll have an assortment of people as cheerleaders. It's going to be a great event."

And Ambos sees it as an event that has legs. Committee members already are brainstorming on how to change things up and make it better, making the run an annual event.

"We planted the seed for next year," Ambos said.


Walk the walk

Southern Maryland Memory Walk to end Alzheimer's Disease will be Sept. 18 at Regency Furniture Stadium, 11765 St. Linus Drive, Waldorf. Check in is 8:30 a.m., walk starts at 10 a.m. Call 301-934-5856 or e-mail Linda.Gottfried@alz.org.

Real Life Church will hold a 5K run/walk along Three Notch Trail 8 a.m. Sept. 18 at the Northern Senior Center, Charlotte Hall. Prizes, food and entertainment. Registration is $25 per person or $100 for families of four or more. Rain date Sept. 25. Call 240-577-5528 or go to active.com and type in "Real Life."

Humane Society of Calvert County, a no-kill shelter, will hold the eighth annual Pet Day 5K run/walk 8:30 a.m. Sept. 18 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 14400 Solomons Island Road, Solomons Island. Cost is $30 for 13 and older, $25 for 6-12 and free for children 5 and younger. A $5 discount is available for those registering at www.HumaneSocietyofCalvertCounty.org. Leashed, well-behaved dogs invited to attend.

Angels Forever Up! presents the National Down Syndrome Society's Buddy Walk Sept. 19 at Regency Furniture Stadium, 11765 St. Linus Drive, Waldorf. Registration opens at 12:30 p.m. Go to www.AngelsForeverUp.org.

Zonta International will hold the seventh annual RAVE Walk Oct. 16 at St. Charles Towne Center. Registration is 7:30 a.m., walk starts at 8 a.m. Register at www.active.com/walking/waldorf-md/zonta-rave-walk-2010. Go to www.zontacharlescounty.org or e-mail ravewalk@comcast.net.