“We raise funds for four foundations, but this one, as nursing home employees, it has kind of a special place in our hearts. …. This is a big deal to be able to present this,” said Galy Huggenberger, administrator of Memorial Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
Huggenberger was outside the nursing home Friday to present a check for $13,484.95 to former Amarillo Mayor Debra McCart, Ameka Mobley, Dena Kidd, and Dee O’Gorman of the Alzheimer’s Association in Amarillo as residents, family members, staff, and volunteers looked on.
Nursing home staff, along with others at the Moore County Hospital District (MCHD), raised the funds this year as part of a team that will take part in the association’s annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s on September 24 at Hodgetown Stadium in Amarillo. For the past three years, the team from the MCHD has raised more money than any other Texas Panhandle team. Last year, the district staffers raised more than $12,000 of a total take of $165,000, which put them at the top of a field of 100 teams representing more than 1000 walkers. This year’s effort puts the team in the running for winning again, something that has impressed association officials. “We wanted to come up here and recognize the outstanding donation from this community,” said Mobley.
In addition to raising funds to fight Alzheimer’s Disease, the walk has another purpose as well. “It is not just about the money. It is about bringing awareness and having our communities realize how it (the disease) is impacting families,” said Mobley. Alzheimer’s is very prevalent in the Texas Panhandle. Across Texas, 400,000 people have been diagnosed with the disease, though the actual number is certainly higher. “I don’t talk to anyone who hasn’t been affected by the disease,” she said. In the nation as a whole, 50 percent of people have been touched by Alzheimer’s in some way.
According to Huggenberger, 65-70 percent of residents in Memorial Nursing and Rehabilitation Center have Alzheimers, though they are at a stage where they can still be in a facility without a specialized Alzheimer’s unit. Staff often confront the disease beyond their work. “A lot of us have to not only take care of people here but have people in our family who have it,” she said. Some staffers have even lost family members to the disease.
Huggenberger said that, in addition to research for a cure, the association provides education about the disease and various types of support to patients, family members, and care givers.
Though the team from the MCHD has been the only one from Moore County to take part in the walk in the past, Mobley said she encourages everyone to come out and get involved. Participation in the walk is free of charge. Teams raise funds in a variety of ways. Some get sponsors, others do clay shoots, bowling tournaments, and various other activities. The MCHD team raised their money in July during the district’s Month of Giving. Much of their donation came from employee payroll contributions. The walk is three miles.
People can register or get more information at act.alz.org/amarillo.
Huggenberger said she hopes to be able to take residents and family members to watch the walk and activities September 24.
Finally, she said she was proud of the way the staff steps up year after year. “It is not just a job. They don’t just come in and punch a clock. They give so much of themselves. They give it their all, and I am very proud of them.”