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Hudson -- Alzheimer's has touched countless people nationwide including the members of Hudson's DiGeronimo family, who were recognized at this year's Akron Walk to End Alzheimer's Oct. 2 at the University of Akron.
Dessa DiGeronimo lost her grandmother, who had Alzheimer's, and now is caring for her mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in her mid-sixties. She said the disease "has affected my entire family."
"My father is the primary caregiver, but my family has taken a part in her caregiving," she said. "Whether it's puzzles, coloring, raising awareness of this disease with classmates or simply raising money, we are all trying to simply make a difference.
"This cause is so important to me," she said. "I want to find a cure so my children will not have to watch as Alzheimer's painfully takes away another loved one."
Recognition of the DiGeromino family took place at the Akron Walk, a 2-mile journey around the University of Akron campus with the family carrying the "Walk" flag and leading the way.
The family includes parents Gregg and Dessa plus their children Dominic, 19, Dante, 18, Dane, 14, and Delaney, 12. Their family of volunteers and advocates raised more than $10,000.
The family has shown "exceptional support" for the Alzheimer's Association's mission through participation and planning of events within the Greater East Ohio Chapter Area, according to Pam Schuellerman, executive director of the Alzheimer's Association Greater East Ohio Area Chapter.
Dessa DiGeronimo has volunteered on the planning committee for the Akron Walk for the last three years, and assisted with planning the Alzheimer's Association's Paint the Night Purple benefit dinner and auction for the last two years. She has also advocated for Alzheimer's policies in Columbus with the chapter, and attended the Association's National Leadership Summit in 2015.
Gregg DiGeronimo, the national sales manager for Key Bank Investments, has been similarly involved and will join the Greater East Ohio Area Chapter's Board in October.
The DiGeronimo children have followed in their parents' footsteps, working with Hudson City Schools to implement an annual "Purple Out" football game at Hudson High School.
The Akron Walk has taken place at the University of Akron since 2012, when it was moved from Blossom Music Center to accommodate more participants and activities. The Akron Walk raised about $214,000 this year, an increase over the 2015 total of $185,000.
"We have supporters with so many different connections to Alzheimer's disease -- caregivers, those who have lost a loved one, and professionals that see it every day and want to do something to find a cure," said Andrew DeFratis, communications and public policy coordinator for the Greater East Ohio Area Chapter. "The feeling that morning was definitely determined and positive, and our promise garden ceremony offers a moment of reflection where individuals see that they are not alone facing the disease. That can be very powerful."
Additional information on the event is available online at alz.org/walk.