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Alzheimer's Tennessee two years in to helping thousands in Tri-Cities

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - People braved the cold weather in Johnson City's Founder's Park Saturday all to support fund-raising and awareness of Alzheimer's disease. The 2nd annual Alzheimer's Tennessee Walk helps serve thousands in the area.

Alzheimer's Tennessee regional director Tracey Wilson watched her grandfather struggle with the isolating disease, but she said her family is far from alone.

"In this area of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia we estimate there are about 10,000 individuals that are diagnosed with some form of dementia," Wilson said. We know there are 70 types, Alzheimer's disease being the most common."

This camaraderie, a community of shared experience and support, making all the difference.

'They can look around and see they are truly never alone," Wilson said. "Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week they do have support and they do have people that are here for them."

News five meteorologist Dave Dierks shared his experience watching his grandfather struggle with the disease.

"I have first hand experience with the devastating impact that it has on not only the person who has Alzheimer's disease but also on the devastating impact it has on family members and friends," Dierks said.

He said this tight-nit network of services and encouragement is significant.

"At that time there really wasn't the awareness of Alzheimer's disease that there is now so that's why I think this is such an important event," Dierks said.

The goals include raising money for research and connecting families. Young fiddling sensation Carson Peters and his band, Iron Mountain, assisted with a little bluegrass cheer.

"This has a lot of personal meaning to me, you know? Just family members who have had Alzheimer's before," Peters said.

It's just the second year of what's hoped to be a long standing tradition.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel," Wilson said, "and as I say, that light isn't always a train. Sometimes it's a huge ray of hope."

To learn how to donate or find out what services are offered you can visit at the Alzheimer's Tennessee website.

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