Avon Lake resident Dave Rickey jokes about the first months when his wife, Audrey, began having memory lapses.
“We thought it was menopause, and we laugh about it,” Rickey said.
At the time, Audrey, then 56, was a fifth-grade teacher in the Keystone School District.
“She would teach the same lesson over and over,” Rickey said.
After testing, it was determined that Audrey had early-onset Alzheimer’s, a disease that slowly robs the disease’s victims of their memory.
Audrey is still almost fully functional, but the Rickeys became advocates of fighting Alzheimers and last year took part in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s to help raise funds to assist in researching the disease.
The Walk is Saturday, Sept. 22 at All-Pro Stadium in Avon, home of the Lake Erie Crushers.
“It is the only disease with no known treatment or cure,” Dave Rickey said. “The whole country needs to be more aware of this.”
He is aware of the efforts to fight breast cancer but said that baby-boomers are in for a rude surprise.
“I believe this will be a huge, huge deal with baby boomers coming into age,” he said. “The whole country needs to be more aware of this. It will be tenfold (of breast cancer diagnoses).”
Last year, the Rickeys friends, under the flag of Audrey’s Army, raised enough funds at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s to get entered into a drawing and they won a tour of the Alzheimer’s research center at the Cleveland Clinic.
“It totally opened our eyes,” he said of the tour. “They gave us an update on Alzheimer’s; we got to see the labs and mice. It’s incredible. They’re one of the leading researchers in the country.”
It also gave him hope that someday those suffering from Alzheimer’s will have treatment options and possibly a cure.
“The say there may be a cure by 2025; that may be too late (for Audrey),” he said. “I’d love to see a cure (now), but I’m not optimistic. We’re here to help other people.”
That means raising funds now for research. Last year, with Dave recuperating from leg surgery, his daughter Laura, now a senior at the University of Akron, led Audrey’s Army. This year Dave is leading the charge and is expecting a healthy crowd of supporters on Saturday at All-Pro Freight Stadium, where the walk will be held. Events kick of at 8:30 a.m. with opening ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. followed by the Walk.
Laura, who coordinated efforts for Audrey’s Army with fellow Avon Laker Noel Joyce last year, will be there along with some classmates and friends of the Rickeys.
“We’ve already raised more than $3,500,” Dave said. “We have at least 20 walkers.”
The Rickeys will be holding an afternoon barbeque for supporters at their house.
Community members are welcome to join the team or make a donation.
Audrey’s Army set a fundraising goal of $2,250.00, and as of Sept. 20, raised more that $3,700.
“A lot of people have stepped up,” Dave said. “There’s a lot of love people have for Audrey. It gives us hope something is being done and makes you feel good about raising money for something.”