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Orangetown Family Walks With Rockland Alzheimer's Association

Team O'Grady will take part in two Alzheimer's Association events this fall in Rockland County, including a candle lighting ceremony at the Central Ave. Field in Pearl River Sunday from 7 to 7:30 p.m.

Long-time Orangetown resident John O'Grady was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2009, leading his family to the Rockland County Alzheimer's Association.

"I became involved in this wonderful organization last year when my family sought assistance from the local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association," said Siobhan O'Grady, one of John's daughters. "Because of all the amazing work the organization does I wanted to get involved and joined the fundraising committee."

Team O'Grady took part in the 2011 Walk to End Alzheimer's. The Alzheimer's Association sponsors the fundraising walks all over the country. will be held Sunday, Oct. 7 at St. Thomas Aquinas College. Registration starts at 9 a.m. at the Romano Student Center and the walk starts at 10 a.m. The short walk winds through the STAC campus. Lunch is served to participants after the walk with food and beverages donated by local businesses.

There will also be a Promise Flower garden set up during the walk, with pinwheel flowers commemorating participants' connection to Alzheimer’s, as well as raffles, informational booths and activities such as face painting and massages. More information can be found under the Sparkill location at www.alz.org/walk.

The Rockland County chapter also holds Luminary Ceremonies, lighting candles in honor of family and friends fighting Alzheimer's and those who have been lost to the disease.

The 2012 Luminary Ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Central Avenue Field gazebo in Pearl River. Luminaries are available for a donation of $10. For more information or to arrange for a luminary, contact Maria Paliotti at (845) 639-6776 or maria.paliotta@alz.org.

"It's a really nice ceremony for the families," Siobhan O'Grady said. "It's something the local chapter does for the community. The real money comes in at the walk.

"One reason they do the luminary and the walk is to let people know the association is there and the services are there."

Siobhan O'Grady and her siblings Darren and Michele O'Grady Worob, owner of Luigi O'Grady's in Pearl River, grew up in Orangetown and graduated from Nanuet Schools. They have praised the Rockland County chapter of the Alzheimer's Association for its resources and aid to their family.

"They got our mother to support groups," Siobhan O'Grady said. "We have a lot more help now, but in the beginning, it was my mother and ourselves. I moved home to help. My mom was an absolute mess, but she's a different person now. She has made friends with the women in the meetings. It's great for her. (It helps) when they see somebody else is going through the same thing, that they are not the only person doing it.

"In the beginning it's hard. You don't understand why they are not listening to you. It takes the person closest to them the longest to accept it."

"My mother in particular has gotten a major, major benefit from them," Worob said. "She started going two years ago to a support group and it has been a major help to her. It's hard for people to relate to her when they don't know it first hand. You think it can't be that bad. But when you meet somebody who has gone through it, it is that bad."

She said that the situation can be overwhelming as well as frustrating.

"The first year with my dad wasn't so bad," Worob said. "He would ask the same question over and over or have the same conversation over and over, but it was manageable. This past year with him, he's been in such a downward slide. My sister moved in to help out. We're doing everything we can to keep him home."  

Worob said the Alzheimer's Association is a tremendous resource beyond the support groups.

"They are amazing. If you have a question, they have an answer for you. They know how you can get services, such as hospice," Worob said. "You have these things you thought you'd have to do yourself, but this organization helps you do them."

One fundraiser Team O'Grady is doing is the . Worob said the raffle alone helped them raise $3,000 last year. She added that community support has been tremendous.

"I would say it is overwhelming," Worob said. "So many people have been touched by Alzheimer's. It's almost like an epidemic now. It's scary, the numbers of people. Customer after customer. It's my grandmother. My neighbor. My aunt. My uncle. So many people are touched by it."

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