By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 9/3/20
It’s been more than a year since Michael Strawderman’s father, Ronnie, died from Alzheimer’s, and the memory of what the disease did to him is hard to forget.
Ronnie’s driver’s license was taken away, and he forgot how to do the things he loved the most.
“Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States,” Michael Strawderman said.
It is in Ronnie’s memory that Strawderman became involved with the Harrisonburg Walk to End Alzheimer’s organization, which is hosting a virtual walk this year.
As part of a way to get people ready for the walk, the Harrisonburg chapter held a pep rally on Wednesday to provide participants with information about the virtual walk, share stories and thank sponsors.
“We are having an in-person gathering this year,” Strawderman said.
On Oct. 10, participants will wake up and watch the opening and promise garden ceremony from the comfort of their own homes before heading out the door for their walk. To watch the ceremonies, walkers will register with Walk Mainstage — an interactive online experience, according to Strawderman.
Through the platform, those registered to walk will be notified to start walking at 9: 30 a. m., shortly after the opening ceremony. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., walkers can visit the view-only promise garden at James Madison University’s University Park.
As of Wednesday evening, there were 153 participants and 46 teams signed up for the Harrisonburg Walk to End Alzheimer’s, as well as more than $21,000 raised.
The goal is to raise $190,225, according to its website.
During the online pep rally, Strawderman told viewers that the most powerful
tool a person has to raise funds is through personal ties, whether it be from personal experiences or supporting others.
“What motivates you motivates friends to donate,” he said.
Of the 153 registered participants, Strawderman said 45 had raised more than $100, five raised more than $500 and two raised more than $1,000, including the Strawderman family.
To track fundraising progress or to send messages asking for donations, Strawderman told viewers to download the Walk to End Alzheimer’s app.
“People raise three times more money by using the app,” he said.
The app will also track how many steps a person has taken as part of the walk.