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Alzheimer's gets a rocking boost

People in rocking chairs raise $5,000 to benefit the Alzheimer's Family Organization of Citrus County.

By JORGE SANCHEZ

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 14, 2001


BEVERLY HILLS -- About $5,000 raised Saturday at a rocking-chair marathon will be used for programs at the Alzheimer's Family Organization of Citrus County.

The event, held at the Nature Coast Lodge assisted living facility, featured teams of participants swaying in rocking chairs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Besides paying $50 per chair to enter the event, many participants obtained individual pledges for each hour they rocked.

Cathy Pearson, executive director of Nature Coast Lodge, said she wanted to do the event to raise awareness of Alzheimer's support groups in Citrus County. Nature Coast Lodge cares for Alzheimer's patients in a separate wing of the facility.

"This is a different type of event. Most of them are walks or runs, but it's too hot at this time of the year," Pearson said. "This is turning out to be a lot of fun."

The money will be donated to the Alzheimer's Family Organization to help finance its various programs, including respite care assistance, which provides time off to family caregivers of Alzheimer's patients.

Other programs that will benefit from the funds are: a wanderer's identification, that helps identify patients who wander away and can't recall who they are because of memory loss; support groups; a helpline; and emergency placement services.

Saturday's event also featured a classic car show, an arts and crafts display, plus food and live music.

Among the participants was Carol Kinszick, of Beverly Hills, who rocked alongside her mother, Bertha "Bertie" Smith, an Alzheimer's patient residing at Nature Coast Lodge.

Kinszick said she made the choice to place her ailing mother in the facility for the peace of mind of both of them.

"It's a lot easier this way." she said. "I can get breaks from being her caregiver and not feel so tired. It also makes the time we spend together quality time."

The Gulf to Lakes Pilot Club of Crystal River, which also raises funds for Alzheimer's and other similar diseases, sponsored five teams of rockers and also sold Mardi Gras jewelry to help raise money.

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