2 million steps: Retirees raise money for Alzheimer’s research


Retirement home used social distancing and mask wearing to ensure safety for the annual event during pandemic

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The novel coronavirus pandemic couldn’t stop residents in a retirement home from raising $1,000 in Alzheimer’s research during a month-long walk-a-thon for charity this month.

Laurel Parc retirement home in Portland usually conducts the month long walk-a-thon, but administrators were hesitant this year due to the pandemic.

John Baker, 88, had participated in the yearly event for the past 10 years after his wife had tragically been taken by the disease in 2009.

“I want to do it for the Alzheimer’s research and in my wife’s memory,” Baker said.

John Baker, 88, walked the equivalent of three marathons to raise money for Alzheimer’s research after his wife was taken by the disease in 2009. October 8, 2020 (KOIN).

Baker committed a monetary donation to the cause this year, despite the uncertainty if the retirement home could still conduct the event.

Due in part to Baker’s enthusiasm, the retirement home decided to keep up the tradition.

Twenty people participated in all and ended up collectively walking over 2.8 million steps, or the equivalent of 46 marathons. For his part, Baker, who uses a walker, walked the equivalent of three marathons. The final steps of the walk-a-thon were taken Thursday afternoon.

“We’re very interested in the progression of Alzheimer’s ’cause we realize it’s a really devastating disease. It doesn’t affect the body so much as it takes away your personality and your mind,” said Richard Chew, another Laurel Parc resident and participant of the walk. Chew, 76, walked the equivalent of over five marathons, he said.

The retirement home conducted the walks safely, with participants wearing masks and socially distancing.

The battle against Alzheimer’s disease is not some distant issue for the retirement home, which has a memory care unit that serves 23 people.

Walk to End Alzheimer’s is an event held annually in more than 600 communities worldwide.

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