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Hannah Hancock, team captain with Care All Home Care Services, picks up a sign to promote the first Plateau Alzheimer's Walk. The event will be Sept. 8 at the Cumberland County Courthouse lawn. The event will raise funds to help individuals and families who are affected by Alzheimer's disease. Team captains met Wednesday for a kickoff luncheon to begin fundraising efforts and pick up supplies. Care All Home Care Services is also one of the sponsors of the event.

Team captains gathered Wednesday for a luncheon and celebration at Cumberland Medical Center to kickoff preparations for the first Plateau Alzheimer's Walk. The event will be Sept. 8 at the Cumberland County Courthouse lawn and promises to raise funds that will stay local and help those directly affected with the disease in Cumberland and Fentress counties.

"We are very excited to be starting a walk up here in Crossville for both Cumberland and Fentress counties," said Amanda Barlow, Cumberlands area director for Alzheimer's Tennessee, Inc.

They plan to hold the Plateau Alzheimer's Walk annually.

"I'm happy that we're able to have a walk here in my hometown. We've been trying to put this together for a long time and I'm glad we're going to see it happen here," said co-chairperson Julie Jordan, with Quality Home Health.

Barbie Neely, with WyndRidge Health and Rehabilitation Center, is also serving as a co-chairperson for the event, but was unable to attend the kickoff.

The two have both been involved with previous Alzheimer's walks in Cookeville for the past several years.

Barlow said that in Cumberland County, more than 1,200 individuals have been diagnosed with the disease.

"Every 69 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease," Barlow said.

Alzheimer's disease begins in the brain, destroying memory and thinking skills. It first affects the region of the brain responsible for recent memories but spreads to other areas. Eventually, those with the disease are unable to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living.

"The money that is raised here will stay local. The funds help provide direct services for patients and families. We want to be the bridge that bridges the gap," Barlow said.

As part of the walk, teams are formed and they will raise funds to support Alzheimer's services on the Cumberland Plateau, including education and awareness programs, a helpline providing support, information and referrals, professional training and support groups. There are currently six support groups offered in Cumberland County.

The fundraising goal for the Plateau WALK is set at $25,000.

"We hope to raise that much or even more would be better," Barlow said. "We hope this will be successful enough that one day we'll be able to open an office here in Crossville."

Teams can raise money in a variety of ways, from bake sales to yard sales and delivering lunches or holding car washes.

Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Inc. was founded in 1983 by a small group of East Tennessee families.

Today the 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization still governed by a local board of directors advocates for top research initiatives and provides services to the more than 22,000 individuals and families facing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in East Tennessee and the Cumberlands.

With offices in Knoxville and Cookeville, Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Inc. serves Knox and 25 other counties from Putnam in the west to Hancock in the northeast part of the state.

The Cookeville, Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Inc. office serves Clay, Pickett, Jackson, Overton, Fentress, Putnam, White, VanBuren and Cumberland County.

Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Inc. provides family support, offers community and professional education, advocates for the needs and rights of those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, as well as research for its prevention, cure and treatment.

Families can receive assistance through such programs as the agency’s locally-staffed Helpline, consultations on care for persons with the disease, adult day care, support groups, help with local resources and referrals, financial assistance, in-service training opportunities for staff at area facilities, advocacy aimed at enhancements in law and policy, an annual research symposium for physicians and healthcare professionals, and educational materials and programs such as caregiver training workshops for families and professionals.

There are also several prizes that individuals and teams can earn for those who raise the most funds. Youths and youth groups are also encouraged to participate and are also given awards.

For more information about the Plateau Alzheimer's Walk, visit www.alztennessee.org, or call (931) 526-8010. Those who are interested may also sign up to walk, volunteer to help with the walk or donate through the website.

The website also includes educational material about Alzheimer's disease, warning signs and support services, as well as contact information for the six support groups in Cumberland County.

Sponsors of the Plateau Alzheimer's Walk include Arby's of East Tennessee, Crossville Chonicle, PEG Broadcasting radio stations 102.5 WOW; Mix 99.3; Cumberland Medical Center, Dave Kirk Automotive, Cumberland Good Samaritans, Right at Home of the Upper Cumberlands, Care All Home Care Services, Quality Home Health, Home Instead Senior Care, Boyett Logging and Farming, Hospice of Cumberland County, Wyndridge Health and Rehabilitation Center and Uplands Village.