On Saturday morning, families from across the state will gather at Camdenton High School. These families all have one thing in common, they are somehow affected by Alzheimer's. The Lake Area Walk to End Alzheimer's is coming to the lake area for the first time.
For lake area native David Tomlinson, this will allow his family to participate in a walk close to home. In the past, they have traveled to other cities for this walk. This walk isn't just a 5K for Tomlinson, it is about something that hits home for him and his wife.
Tomlinson's wife, Shirley, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at the young age of 57 in 2011. Tomlinson has been her caretaker ever since.
"We jumped right in to being involved," he said. "The way we cope is we teach ourselves, we learn."
And that is what he did. Tomlinson is a board member and chairman for the upcoming walk and attends a local support group for caretakers.
For Tomlinson, one struggle for he and his family is that most Alzheimer statistics are based on patients age 65 and older. His wife is just now 60 and does not fall into the age group of the statistics.
"There is no cure, we know that," he said. "We know the disease marches on no matter the medication Shirley is on."
Because of that, the Tomlinsons and families like theirs have to keep marching on, as well. Events like the upcoming 5K help them raise awareness about the disease and meet new people who are facing the same struggles that they are.
"It is hard when you have to take the keys away from your wife and tell her she cannot drive anymore. We have to change our lives as it progresses," Tomlinson said.
He added that for those that are in a similar situation, not to be afraid to ask for help.
"You cannot do this on your own. You can simply get worn out. Do something to give yourself a break," Tomlinson said. "You are losing your loved one a little bit each day. It's just difficult."
Alzheimer's is terminal, but Tomlinson added that his wife is still social and they do have their fair share of great days.
Tomlinson said that the 5K is open to everyone and he hopes that more people can learn about the disease through events like this one.
"It creates more awareness. It just means a lot. I know people personally that are not involved or not getting the help they can get from the association because they do not know about it," he said.