KEARNEY — As if on cue, the sun peeked out Sunday afternoon before the end of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, the 15th annual benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Among the estimated 400 walkers were 15 members of the Charles Kuebler family from Shelton. They proudly wore Bev’s Bunch T-shirts in honor of Bev Kuebler, Kuebler’s wife of 63 years, who has Alzheimer’s and is a resident at CountryHouse, a Kearney facility for people with memory loss.

The event was particularly poignant for its chair, Susan Bigg, who lost her husband Stan to Alzheimer’s last week. He had had the disease for more than 20 years.

The event at Yanney Park raised an unofficial total of $53,000. It included a mile-long walk around the lake, along with food, games, live entertainment and information booths detailing Alzheimer’s disease, advocacy opportunities, how to enroll in clinical studies, and support programs and services.

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The day also included a Promise Garden ceremony honoring those who have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease and other memory-loss conditions. People could take home artistic flowers in four colors: orange for an Alzheimer’s advocate, yellow for a person caring for someone with the disease; purple for those who have lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s and blue for someone living with a person with Alzheimer’s.

Families could take photos of themselves at a booth. Hairstylists from Joseph’s College of Cosmetology offered to put purple stripes into the hair of attendees. Caregivers could learn ways to take care of themselves.

Among the sponsors were Runza, Platte River Radio, KSNB Local 4, Schrock Medical Clinic, AseraCare Hospice and Kearney Regional Medical Center.

Sunday’s event has grown tremendously in the past 15 years. It had raised $37,000 of its $62,000 goal two weeks ago.

The first walk, in 2005, raised $2,257 while $8,385 was donated in 2009. Last year’s event raised $49,000.

“We are so thankful for all the families, sponsors and volunteers who came out to celebrate the community’s success. We were impressed with the turnout, and the sun came out just in time for the actual walk,” said Cassie Larreau-Bailey, the Alzheimer’s Association walk coordinator. “We came together as a community to show that we will not let this disease win, that together, we are strong and will find and celebrate our first survivor.”

Donations may be made through Dec. 12 at alz.org/walk.

maryjane.skala@kearneyhub.com

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