The last Sunday of September always features the Walk to End Alzheimer's, starting from Pioneer Courthouse Square at 10 a.m., then the Walk to Defeat ALS (Lou Gehrig's) leading off from the World Trade Center at noon. For the past three years, I have walked the first with Gary Witteman and the team from Pacific Gardens where Gary's wife Dorothy is cared for. And then I join Mike Verbout and his family and friends to walk in honor of Mike's mother Doris, and also with fond memories of my friend and neighbor Steve White.
Senator Ron Wyden participated in both events, too. Seen here with the Oregon Alzheimer's Association's new Executive Director, Kathleen Cody (center) and Katherine Jimenez, secretary of the volunteer Board of Directors, Senator Wyden kicked off the walk by stepping to the microphone and announcing, "I've been asked to speak for about an hour," then chuckling and pointing at a woman in the crowd who he said looked like she believed him. I enjoy that kind of humor.
This is most of the Doris Verbout team at the Walk to Defeat ALS. Leader Mike, the oldest son of Doris for whom we walk, had car trouble and didn't make it past the parking meter space. It is heartwarming how the Verbout team welcomes me into their family for the event, even without my friend Mike. I go to the ALS fundraiser banquet each year, too, and have always been assigned to a table with seven members of a family and one spare place. There, too, I have been graciously included as "one of us", no matter where I am placed. There is community in sharing the spirit of caring about an issue, especially a challenging and heartbreaking issue. With my own family of origin far away in England, I appreciate being adopted into other clans.
I think I heard organizers say 2,700 signed up for the Alzheimers walk, and 3,500 for ALS. Total funds raised will doubtless be posted over the next few weeks, on the Oregon Alzheimer's and ALS sites. Special thanks to the Portland Police officers who keep us safe, and downtown residents and travelers who endure the disruption of closed streets for the events. The ALS Walk has already far exceeded its fundraising goal, bringing in over $389,000 for research and support to families. Nice going, volunteers and staff.