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Ada Glowacki is surrounded by the creative and highly-skilled woodworking pieces in her Batavia home, crafted by her late husband, Russell. From large pieces of functional furniture to ornate picture frames to pieces of art and trinkets, she glowed when describing Russell’s ability to turn an unassuming piece of wood into something that fit perfectly into their lives.

Effervescent and talented, Russell died in March from Alzheimer’s at age 78, leaving behind his wife, three children and seven grandchildren, which is why she’s walking in memory of her husband in Genesee County’s Alzheimer’s Walk next Saturday. Ada says the disease stole Russell’s uniqueness that was apparent in his masterful work.

“When Russ first got this disease, I used to call it insidious,” she said. “But at the end I said it’s evil and sinister because it robs the human person of everything. They have no dignity left at all at the end.”

Ada was Russell’s primary caregiver for about five years until four months before his death when he was placed in a memory care facility.

“Every so often there was a moment where he would be just a small resemblance of his old self,” she said. “But those incidents were few and far between. It’s just a very dreadful thing for a family to watch someone you love go down the sad road of Alzheimer’s.”

The unnervingly uncomfortable “downward spiral” caused by Alzheimer’s disease is all too familiar to many families. The Alzheimer’s Association says it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and estimates 2,000 Genesee County residents alone have been diagnosed with the disease.

“We saw the downward spiraling of this disease. We saw how it changed him on a daily basis,” she said. “He was a very bright, intelligent man, lots of humor, quick-witted, he was a master woodworker. He just did everything. And we saw what happened to him when he declined with this disease both mentally and physically and it was very devastating for our family.”

Ada is a widow because of Alzheimer’s, but she’s using her grief to make sure this disease does not crush another family like her own. She is a supporter of the Western New York Alzheimer’s Association and encouraging all Genesee County residents to sign up and raise money for the Alzheimer’s walk next Saturday, Sept. 28. Ada’s daughter Patricia – a corporate sponsor -- and granddaughter Gretchen will be walking in Batavia; another granddaughter, Ellen, (who’s raised more than $700 to the cause) and her sister Anne will be walking in Chicago and the University of Illinois, respectively.

“The main goal is to put an end to it,” she said,” by research and medication and by making people aware of where we are with the disease and what they can do to help.”

The two-mile walk starts and ends at the GeneseeCounty nursing home in Batavia and is open to the public. Funds raised help the Alzheimer’s Association provide programs and resources to families dealing with the disease, as well as funding vital research.  

Visit alz.org/wny to get involved.

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