It seems everyone knows someone who has suffered from some type of dementia or has had to care for someone with the disease. That’s what motivated nearly two dozen UFT members to participate in the CaringKind Alzheimer’s Walk on Oct. 10 in Central Park.
Susan Perez, the UFT’s Victim Support Program coordinator in the Bronx, urged the union to get involved in the cause two years ago after losing her mom to the disease. This year, the UFT was a sponsor and, while the pandemic and rain showers may have put a damper on the turnout, Perez is determined to increase participation next year.
“CaringKind doesn’t only focus on the individual with the disease but also on the caregiver,” said Perez, who served in that role for her mom. “There is a big need taking care of the caregivers. So many people are taking care of parents, husbands, wives and other loved ones with dementia.”
At press time, nearly $2,000 had been raised by union members.
Sarah Lauducci, a teacher at PS 469 in the Bronx, walked in honor of two of her grandparents who suffered from dementia.
“My Nana on my father’s side and my grandfather on my mother’s side both had Alzheimer’s, and it deeply affected our family,” Lauducci said. “It’s a very special cause to me because our family is extremely close, and it was traumatic to experience that loss of memory and special moments.”
Lauducci’s experience is one of the reasons her school’s chapter leader, paraprofessional Luis Garcia, took part in the walk.
“I had a great experience overall in meeting people and seeing how my union came together to support the cause,” Garcia said. “I posted pictures from the walk on social media and got a lot of good responses.”
Lauducci said the walk was helpful in a variety of ways. “In addition to raising money, it provided great resources and opportunities for people to become more aware of the options that are out there for those with Alzheimer’s and their families,” she said.