CINCINNATI, OH – Marisa O’Neill said she is tired of vibrant, healthy people slipping into the darkness caused by Alzheimer’s and dementia.
“Since I run a Medicare Advisory firm, I’ve seen this disease impact so many of our clients and employees. It has been so hard for us to see the decline: from the excitement of our clients when they first retire to the first signs and throughout their journey with the disease,” said O’Neill, who is CEO of RetireMEDiQ.
To help make a difference, she is co-chairing the 2021 Cincinnati Tri-State Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which will be Saturday, Oct. 2 at Sawyer Point. The people and the families devastated by the progressive brain disease fuel her passion.
“One of my mentors from my first job out of college succumbed to the disease last summer. He was such a vibrant, fun, and engaging leader who taught me so much. To know how much his life changed before he lost his fight is heartbreaking. So, I am helping to chair the Walk this year because I have seen too many families suffering from this disease. I walk to fight so my friends, family and clients can enjoy life, retirement and quality time with those they love. I’m tired of vibrant, healthy people slipping into the darkness.”
The Cincinnati Tri-State Walk to End Alzheimer’s, presented by Tide, is the fourth-largest walk in the nation and has raised more than $1,000,000 annually for five years straight. Proceeds fund Alzheimer’s research and local care and support services provided by the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Cincinnati Chapter. In the Tri-State region, there are approximately 55,000 people living with Alzheimer’s and they are supported by 150,000 caregivers.
Bob McEwan, who also is co-chair of the Walk, said, “I watched my father for five years struggle with this disease. The impact on my mom and our family as caregivers was draining and exhausting. My wife spent six years supporting her mom who had dementia. More research and caregiving support are needed as well.”
The stress of the pandemic made the Association’s services even more critical, said Annemarie Barnett, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Cincinnati Chapter. “Families felt isolated and for those who had loved ones in nursing facilities, it was almost unbearable at times,” Barnett said. During the Walk Promise Garden Ceremony, where each participant holds up a multi-colored flower representing their connection to the disease, people can feel united and supported, Barnett said.
Individuals can come to Sawyer Point to participate or walk in their neighborhood. At the Walk, participants will find a layout that allows for physical distancing, hand sanitizer stations, contactless registration, and more, Barnett said. The Association will continue to closely monitor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state, and local guidelines, and adjust event-day safety protocols as needed, she added.
Individuals can register for the Walk at alz.org/walk. The Promise Garden Ceremony begins at 9:40 a.m. and the Walk will start after that. Because the Purple People Bridge will be closed, walkers will just utilize the Taylor-Southgate Bridge.