MANSFIELD – Pam Mock has learned to count her blessings.
Amidst the sometimes discouraging days of caring for her mother Virginia Palmer, who has Alzheimer's, Mock chooses to focus on the positives.
"A visiting nurse once told me, 'You are lucky because you can still hug your mom.' Mom and I both enjoy those hugs," Mock told the crowd at the Walk to End Alzheimer's on Saturday morning.
"Every day when I leave I hug and kiss her and tell her I love her," she continued. "She still responds with 'I love you, too,' and a big smile."
Mock's mother often doesn't recognize her daughter, though she still remembers old hymns. Her moments of lucidity are less and less frequent, but Mock focuses on her moments of clarity.
"All of us here today are blessed to have supporting and caring agencies," Mock said. "They have been most helpful in dealing with questions and concerns I have dealt with in her disease progression.
"I look to the future when a cure is found."
That sentiment was shared with the nearly 200 people that gathered for the 2019 Walk to End Alzheimer's at the Ohio State Mansfield campus. The slogan across this year's purple shirts read, "Fighting for the first survivor."
According to Jim Carder, mission chair for the volunteer walk committee, there are 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer's - a number that grows by one more every 65 seconds.
"During our volunteer meetings I would ask questions such as, who is the person that inspires you to walk? What is your favorite memory of that person? Or what will you do when you finally hear that a cure for Alzheimer's has been found?" Carder said.
Almost 40 teams were able to raise $40,927 towards the cause. The goal is to raise $78,000 by Dec. 15, according to Erica Parnisari, signature events coordinator for the Walk to End Alzheimer's.
Saturday's walk was only the second walk Parnisari coordinated since starting her position in October. The North Central Ohio walk draws participants from Richland, Ashland, Knox, Huron and Crawford counties.
"My grandmother died of Alzheimer's, and prior to this I worked in Hospice," Parnisari said. "Seeing what the disease does to families, it's just a devastating disease and I felt I really wanted to try to do something to help.
"My favorite part is meeting the families," she said. "Talking with them face-to-face and hearing their stories, it's sad but it's inspiring as well."