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‘A way to stay connected’

Alzheimer’s disease affects several million Americans annually. One township family directly affected by it has done what it can to help fundraise for a cure by walking every year in memory of a loved one.

“This has really impacted our lives quite a bit, and we realized the need to fundraise for research to find treatments to find a cure,” Frances McInerney said. “It’s just a really terrible disease that robs people of their lives and is a huge financial, emotional and physical burden on the family members or caregivers for that person.”

The memory walks started after McInerney’s father, John, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016. But the family – and specifically Frances – became more involved in 2019, when she joined the marketing committee for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, an annual event in Philadelphia. She is also an Alzheimer’s Advocate/Ambassador for the state with the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement.

John McInerney passed away in August of 2021 due to Alzheimer’s complications, and his  family and close friends now fundraise and walk in his honor. He himself walked in 2019 and 2020 while still battling the disease.

“It’s a way to stay connected to him,” Frances McInerney explained. “I’m channeling all the frustrations and sadness that I saw him deal with and focus those energies on something positive now and down the line.”

A fundraiser for the Philadelphia walk – one of the largest in the country, with an annual turnout of several thousand – was held on Oct. 16 at the city’s Plough and the Stars. The walk itself will take place on Nov. 12 around Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia, home of the Phillies. It has been several months in the making.

“I think the way that it impacted how young my dad was and life in general, I think that’s rallied people to realize how bad this was,” McInerney said. “People have begun reaching more, helping out with fundraising, joining the walk, because if it can happen to (John), it can happen to anyone.”

John’s McInerney passed away about two weeks after his 48th birthday. His family’s efforts to help find an Alzheimer’s cure remain.


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