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While there does not appear to be an end in sight for the coronavirus, 2021 has been a good year in terms of gains made to bring another health threat under control, Alzheimer’s disease, with a promising drug emerging.

“More and more people are realizing and more and more people are getting involved,” said Pamela Padgett, who is helping lead efforts in Surry County to fight the debilitating disease affecting 6.2 million people. Americans.

This included Padgett’s co-chair of the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease held at Riverside Park in Mount Airy on September 18, with Robin Portis, and other efforts to generate the necessary funds for the struggle and draw attention to the problem.

“As the year draws to a close and the last fundraiser that supports our local walk comes to an end, we are in awe of all the awareness and funds that have been raised,” added Padgett.

She is the director of human resources for Behavioral Services Inc. in Mount Airy, and like many people, she lost someone to Alzheimer’s disease – a grandmother, Mae Holt, in 2018 – which l motivated to get involved in the efforts to find a cure.

Although the march took place in December as a major fundraising effort for this cause with the help of teams, money continued to be generated at the end of 2021.

“Our final total for the year is $ 77,582,” Padgett said Wednesday, which she said is a record sum.

“This total is a testament to the commitment to end Alzheimer’s disease,” she observed. “Still being in a pandemic and being able to raise so much money is phenomenal. “

Real teamwork

After the annual walk to end Alzheimer’s disease was conducted on a virtual basis in 2020 – due to COVID – but has returned to normal in a significant way.

“This year we had 66 teams, which is the highest number of teams in the history of our local walk and 368 participants, which was also a record number,” Padgett said of the event. It is organized in collaboration with the West Carolina chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Individual teams – from businesses, families, churches and civic groups – ran mini-campaigns that totaled the total, with one involving G & B Energy (led by Natalie Eidson) leading the way generating 11,000 $.

Other top teams were fielded by the RidgeCrest retirement community, which raised $ 9,468 under the leadership of Jennifer Johnson-Brown; Team A led by Robin Portis, co-chair of the walk, which raised $ 6,003; Memories of Mae, run by Padgett and generating $ 4,231; and Team Phil, (captain of Vickie Jordan), $ 3,170.

“All of the teams in our walk did a great job not only in fundraising but also in raising awareness,” said Badgett.

“A lot of people organize fundraisers on Facebook to raise funds for their teams – it makes it easier to participate and it represents a big increase in the dollars donated. “

More than walking

As with any such campaign, it takes more than just an event such as a march, but it also requires keeping the issue in front of the public in a number of ways.

This was true in 2021 for local Alzheimer’s disease efforts, which also included a Paint the Town Purple campaign over the summer. “Purple is the official color for Alzheimer’s disease,” Padgett explained.

Shops in downtown Mount Airy displayed shop windows decorated in purple as part of an outreach contest, with some merchants launching fundraisers.

First place went to F. Rees, second to The Spotted Moon, third to Fabric Menagerie and fourth to Mayberry Primitives.

“Even though they weren’t on Main Street, Dr. John Gravitte’s office did a phenomenal outreach demonstration, had a team in the march and was also a sponsor (of this event),” noted Padgett.

RidgCrest also offers an illuminated Christmas exhibit each year as a fundraiser.

“The beauty of its lights sends a message of hope to everyone associated with Alzheimer’s disease, whether they are a patient, caregiver, family member or family member. defender, ”said Padgett.

“We are very grateful that they have chosen to do this every year.”

Meanwhile, local defenders also staged floats during the Fourth of July and Christmas parades in downtown Mount Airy.

Drug breakthrough

The money raised is intended for the care, support and research programs of the Alzheimer’s Association.

This includes a variety of services for people with the disease and their families, including its 24/7 helpline at https://www.alz.org/help-support/i-have-alz/programs-support#helpline, educational programs, support groups and more.

On the research side, Padgett said some progress was made in 2021 in the form of a new drug that hit the market in June. The United States Food and Drug Administration has granted fast-track approval to Aduhelm (aducanumab) for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Padgett said it was the first drug available to slow his progress.

“I think that was a good result of all the years of research,” she said of showing that financial support makes a difference. “I think it was the highlight of the year.”

In May, Padgett also addressed members of Congress, via video conference, to push for federal legislation to advance research and improve treatment and support services for people living with the disease. Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

She is encouraged by so many facets of this community joining together to fight a terrible disease that has affected everyone to some extent through family members and friends.

The includes a growing array of sponsors: Behavioral Services, Surry Communications, Carolina West, Surry Insurance, Altec, Carport Central, First Presbyterian Church of Mount Airy, Home Place, Northern Regional Hospital, Hugh Chatham Hospital, Kindred at Home, Cardinal CT, JG Coram Construction, Dr John Gravitte, Hayco Construction, Nester Hosiery, Rogers Realty, SouthData, Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corp. and Wayne Farms.

“We are grateful to our community for all their support,” Padgett summed up as she closed 2021, which she said has been a positive time both locally and for the Alzheimer’s Association as a whole.