By Veronica Meier
My grandmother’s name was Dorothy Jane Verkler. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003, and she lost her battle with this terrible disease on September 21, 2012. She was 88 years old when she passed. Growing up with a single parent meant that my grandmother played a very active role in my life. I grew up just a few houses away from my grandparents and spent a lot of time under her care. She was a second mother to me, and I adored her. Watching her struggle with this terrible disease broke my entire family’s heart. After she passed away, I decided to create a team and walk in the Peoria Walk to End Alzheimer’s to honor her life and to raise crucial awareness and funds for this worthy cause.
In 2013, I created the team “Janes Gang” for the Walk. During the first year, we raised approximately $1,000.00 for the Alzheimer’s Association. We decided to get the gang together again this year and walked together in the 2016 Peoria Walk. Together as a team, we raised more than $1,430.00. On the morning of the walk, I decided to carry a piece of my grandmother with me. When looking through her old jewelry boxes — which I obtained after her passing — I noticed a large amount of broaches which I remember fondly. My grandmother was a very classy woman who loved her lipstick, hats, and costume jewelry. That morning, my husband and three children decided to honor her by wearing a special piece of her jewelry. We all decided that the broaches were so beautiful, and it was a good excuse to let them shine once again for the day. My grandparents had seven children, 14 grandchildren, and eight great grandchildren, so our team is pretty large. We will be walking again in the Peoria Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Sunday, October 1 and will continue to raise significant funds in remembrance of my grandmother and for the Alzheimer’s Association.
The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. The Peoria Walk to End Alzheimer’s will take place on Sunday, October 1 at Liberty Park in Peoria. The Tazewell County Walk to End Alzheimer’s will take place on Saturday, September 23 at Mineral Springs Park in Pekin. For more information, or to register visit alz.org/walk or call the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapters’ Peoria office at 309-681-1100.
Photos courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association.