Local Woman Raises Awareness for Alzheimer’s disease

More than 5 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease annually. For some, Alzheimer’s disease may be unknown, but to people like Rachel McGinnis and her family, it’s the disease that took someone they love.

McGinnis and her family participated in the 2010 Alzheimer’s Awareness Walk in Huntington. At that point, McGinnis’ grandmother had already been diagnosed with the disease for a few years.

“My family and I walked in the Alzheimer’s walk in the fall and my grandmother passed away that December,” said walk coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association, Rachel McGinnis.

McGinnis said her grandmother’s death encouraged her and her family to do more.

“We wanted to fundraise and spread the word about a disease that’s never talked about,” McGinnis said.

McGinnis and her family began working hard to bring awareness to the disease. McGinnis organized the Golf to End Alzheimer’s tournament and the Ride to End Alzheimer’s.

The 5th annual golf tournament teed off on Oct. 2nd this year. Eighteen teams gather at the Esquire Country Club yearly to compete.

“It’s an amazing day full of friends, games and of course some great golf tales,” McGinnis said.

The Ride to End Alzheimer’s is a motorcycle ride that is now in its 3rd year. This year’s ride was the McGinnis Family’s biggest to date with 108 motorcycles resulting in $15,000 collected for Alzheimer’s research.

The Erma’s Angels Ride, started by McGinnis and her brother, has collected the most money for Alzheimer’s awareness in the state of West Virginia for the past 6 years. Last year, Erma’s Angels collected $22,000 and McGinnis was presented with the Volunteer of the Year award alongside Jay Rockefeller.

“That experience was awesome and Erma’s Angels would not have the fundraising success without the support of our amazing friends and family,” McGinnis said.

“I do this in the hopes that one day there will be a cure to stop this thief who steals our loved ones away.””

— Rachel McGinnis

McGinnis does a lot for those affected by Alzheimer’s and her mother said she is very proud of her daughter.

“I’m so proud of Rachel. She is always thinking of ways to raise money,” said Becky Warden, McGinnis’ mother.

Warden said that her daughter organizes many events including purple parties, chili cook offs, bike rides and golf scrambles.

“She has such a caring heart and is such a strong woman,” Warden said.

Warden said that in addition to McGinnis’ volunteer award, she also has the top fundraising team in the tri-state area.

“She has taken this cause on since her grandmother, my mother, died from this awful disease and she saw first hand how it affects the whole family,” Warden said.

McGinnis began working for the Alzheimer’s Association this Jan. McGinnis is the walk coordinator, spending her time organizing all of the Alzheimer’s walks throughout the state. In total, there are 9 walks.

“I do what I do in honor of my grandmother, Erma Reed,” McGinnis said.

McGinnis said her grandmother was the backbone of their family.

“To see the woman who has raised you and who you’ve looked up to your entire life, lose their battle to a disease that has no cure, changed my life,” McGinnis said.

McGinnis said watching someone who she admired, not even know her name anymore, lit a fire within her. McGinnis said she fundraises, spreads the word and works for the Alzheimer’s association for her mom, herself and every other person out there dealing with this disease.

“I do this in the hopes that one day there will be a cure to stop this thief who steals our loved ones away,” McGinnis said.

Alzheimer’s disease affects more and more people by the day. According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America website, Alzheimer’s is defined as a progressive degernative disorder that destroys memory and other important mental functions.

Unfortunately, no cure currently exists, but there are medications and other strategies used to manage this disease. If you are interested in getting involved in any Alzheimer’s awareness events, visit www.alz.org/wv.

Kalyn Bordman can be contacted at [email protected].