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Why I Walk…Holly’s Story

Holly at the 2021 event with her Walk team.

For over a decade, Holly Koontz has participated in the Peoria area Walk to End Alzheimer’s in honor of the family members she has lost to Alzheimer’s disease. She sits on the Marketing Committee and provides day-of event support year after year. Participating in Walk is her way of maintaining hope for a future without the disease.

Holly’s grandpa as a young man. 

Holly has witnessed family members face Alzheimer’s disease and dementia since she was in her teens. “I was a caregiver for my grandpa when I was in high school to give my grandma a break on Sundays. It was my first encounter with Alzheimer’s…My grandma did so much to keep him home instead of a care facility.” Tragically, Holly’s exposure to the disease didn’t end there.

Holly saw multiple aunts and uncles succumb to the disease, and one of her uncles is currently living with the disease. She knows her experience is not unique. “This impacts most every family I know at some point in time.”

Holly as a baby, held by her Grandma Ruby Garber.

“I’ve lost two grandparents on opposite sides of my family [to the disease],” shares Holly. “I fear that one or both of my parents will get it as there is so much family history.”

“This disease is so very sad,” Holly says. “The person with it may not know what is happening but the loved ones see every day how that person is lost within themselves.”

Participating in the 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Peoria Metro is Holly’s way to “memorialize my family members who have been lost to the disease and honor those who currently are battling it.” This will be her thirteenth year involved in the event.

Taken at the first Walk that Holly’s blended family participated in.

“It gives me hope that treatments will be created and ultimately a cure,” shares Holly. “Someone once said to me that it’s so easy for people to donate to childhood charities or animals but we often forget about the issues that impact the elderly.” She acknowledges that all of these causes are extremely worthwhile, but Alzheimer’s has special meaning to her. It’s where she focuses most of her energy. For Holly, it’s a way “to thank my grandparents and aunts and uncles for all they did for me.”

Honor your loved one by registering for the 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in your community. Get started at alz.org/walk

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