It’s Time to Walk!

ALZwalk-Profile_V4If you haven’t registered for a Southeastern Virginia Walk to End Alzheimer’s, today is a great day to do so!

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Volunteer Spotlight: Ellen Clements

Ellen Clements

In Ellen Clements’ family, Alzheimer’s disease has had a significant impact. For her dad, a brilliant man who read maps for fun, wandering and confusion about where he was were two telling signs of the effects of the disease. Through her experiences with her sister, Ellen has become very knowledgeable about caregiving and the steps that families should take when supporting a family member.

Ellen first connected with the Alzheimer’s Association through Volunteer Hampton Roads, and she is always looking for ways to reach out to groups to raise awareness and help families. “I bring up the conversation and let people know I’m a Community Educator.”

“And, I think that my family experiences give me credibility,” Ellen said. “It’s been a journey, and it helps people to know that I have been through it myself.”

Ellen attended the University of Delaware and then graduated from Humboldt State University in California. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a minor in communications. “I know that’s an odd combination, but it works to help me stay organized and to be able to relate well to people,” she says.

Ellen received her Certification in Christian Education in the United Methodist Church through courses at Wesley Seminary in Washington, D.C., and is a retired Christian educator and a Biblical storyteller. Her son is a voice actor, and Ellen took a class to learn the art of voice acting.

Ellen has lived in Virginia Beach for about 26 years and has been married for over 40 years. In addition to her son, Ellen has a daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren. She is active in the community, spends a lot of time at the library and participates in book studies with members of the Women’s Faith Focus group at Community UMC in Virginia Beach.

With her family history in mind, Ellen is focused on keeping active, exercising, eating healthier and learning new things. “There is hope, but it’s a difficult disease, and I want to understand it the best that I can,” she said.

Why I Walk with Marina Dailey

Why I Walk with Marina Dailey, Team Captain of Yolanda and Shirley’s Angels

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I have experienced this terrible disease with two very important loved ones that meant the world to our family. First, my Grandmother, Shirley B. Perry was a loving sister, mother, grandmother, and friend. She would do anything for anyone. She was an independent and hardworking woman owning her own bakery business. She was very good at her job from making wedding cakes to decorating the local hospital. She especially loved to dance. Elvis was her favorite. She suffered from this terrible disease for a very long time. She passed away on March 14, 2017, at age 78. She is truly missed by her family and friends.
Not long after my sweet grandmother passed, my mother, Yolanda M. Gavaris, was diagnosed. My mother was a very young and beautiful woman. She was a sweet soul, who just loved anyone for who they were. She was only about 48 years old when she was diagnosed with this terrible disease. She passed away on April 9, 2018, at the age of 52 with her three children by her side.

They both are finally at peace with the Lord up in Heaven. They both are missed terribly by their loved ones and friends. I am honoring both of them by doing the walk to raise money and awareness.

I’m leading the way to Alzheimer’s first survivor by participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®. Currently, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s and that number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050. Our future is at risk unless we can find a way to change the course of this disease.

Together, we can end Alzheimer’s disease. Please make a donation to advance the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association or join me at a walk near you!

Join Marina at

Why I Walk with Theresa Sawyer

Why I Walk with Theresa Sawyer, Team captain of Edward Jones-Forget- Me- Nots Virginia Beach

2018 Why I Walk - Theresa Sawyer

I’m leading the way to Alzheimer’s first survivor by participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®. I witnessed the effects this disease had on my grandfather and all his family as he suffered from Alzheimer’s.  It is not an easy ordeal for anyone involved. Currently, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s and that number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050. Our future is at risk unless we can find a way to change the course of this disease.

I am so proud of my company, EDWARD JONES, in becoming the national sponsor for the Alzheimer’s Association.  I am honored to join my fellow associates and community members in these walks around our country.  I will be walking for my grandfather, Jimmy Owens, and all the others I know that have faced this disease.

I hope you will join us at!


Why I Walk with Alice Beaton

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I walk for my Dad (Team Richard) my hero. He lived with Alzheimer’s for 10 years. It was so sad to see his decline. And even times he knew there was just “somethings not right”.  He lived his last three years in the nursing home.

He didn’t know me but I always knew him and I was with him at least every other day.

I don’t want another daddy’s girl to have to take that journey.

Now. I feel like raising money for Alzheimer’s is all I have left to do for my dad

Alice Beaton
Western Tidewater Walk

Join Alice at

Why I Walk with Gino Colombara

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I am Gino Colombara and I have had the honor to be the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association Southeastern Virginia Chapter for the past 23 years. I walk each year for a very personal reason.

My journey with Alzheimer’s started over 30 years ago. It began with my father, John Colombara. While I was in the Navy stationed in Italy, he was living in Florida. I would call him every Sunday. One Sunday, he did not answer the phone. The same held true for Monday. I contacted the apartment manager to check on him. Apparently, neighbors saw my father leave with two suitcases in hand.

My father, who spent most of his adult life in New York, decided to head back home. He traveled by bus and train. He was missing for two months. I had a detective looking for him. This was the worst time of my life.

My father reached New York where he got mugged. He was brought to Bellevue Hospital without any identification. My father did not provide his real name and did not share that he had any family.

So how did I find him? He got on a pay phone in the hospital and called his bank in New York to get his pension check. I had contacted the bank earlier to request that if he should call to please contact the Red Cross.

At 2:00 one morning, military security officers came to my home in Italy and shared that my father was found. I immediately called him at the hospital. When I spoke with him, it was like nothing ever happened. By 8:00 that morning, I was on a flight to New York. And so began my Alzheimer’s journey in 1986. And so began my advocacy to make a difference.

Initially, my Alzheimer’s journey was extremely lonely. There was not much awareness of Alzheimer’s at that time. In fact, my father did not get a formal diagnosis of Alzheimer’s until 1989. My father passed away in 1993.

The tide has certainly changed since then. I feel proud to be part of that changing tide.

30 years ago…I could not imagine a day when everyone who needs care and support gets it as a result of our work…Today I can.

30 years ago…I could not imagine a day when research is funded at the proper level… Today I can.

30 years ago…I could not imagine a day when stigma would be eliminated… Today I can.

And 30 years ago, I could not imagine the day when everyone survives – the day our vision is realized. Today I can.

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is one of the ways I pay tribute to my father. I hope you will join me at one of our walks. I look forward to seeing you!

Gino Colombara, Executive Director
Alzheimer’s Association – Southeastern Virginia Chapter

Join Gino at!

Why I Walk with Sheila Mayes

Why I Walk

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I have been a nurse since 1991. Many of those years as a nurse have been spent working with people who have dementia. It is both challenging and rewarding. I love it! Those people are part of the reason why I walk.

However, the biggest reason is that my paternal grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease before she died. We were fortunate that because she had two wonderful children, my father, and my aunt, along with my stepmother and some hired help, she was able to stay at home for the entire duration of the disease.

My grandmother was pleasantly confused. She loved to joke and laugh. Even on her “bad” days, she made light of it with a joke.

I remember my grandmother as a pure “joy” to be around. Growing up, that’s exactly what we called her. Joy. Her name was Josephine and most people called her “Jo”, but to her grandchildren, she was simply Joy.

Near the end, she could not remember my name. She called my daughter “that girl” when asking about her. Her memories slowly faded and she became more and more confused before she died. I felt as if I had been robbed of my grandmother long before she passed away.

Alzheimer’s is a horrific disease and I love walking to raise money for the cause, hoping that someday we will find a prevention or a cure and be able to provide education so that loved ones will be prepared to cope with the challenges they will face.

Alzheimer’s disease is growing in numbers because people are living longer and their bodies are healthier. It will affect all of us in some way at some time. Please join me in walking to End Alzheimer’s.

Sheila Mayes

Join Sheila at

Why I Walk with Sheila Craze


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This is my Dad and my hero, David A. Craze.  On June 12th, 2017 he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  A day will come that he will forget that I’m his favorite kid and that he’s even my Dad.  No one should have to stand by and watch this disease take their family and friends from them.  So my family’s not standing by. We have joined the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Virginia Beach. I have taken a step further and joined the walk planning committee to help increase outreach and awareness of this horrible disease.

Please join Team Craze in our fight and if you are able, make a donation to advance the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Sheila Craze
Team Craze – CoVA Walk
Join Sheila at


Why I Walk with Beverly Covey

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I am walking for my Dad who is coping the best he can with this disease and my mother Donna Covey who is his caregiver. They live in Elkins, West Virginia and I love him bunches!!! I can’t cure him but I sure can ask for donations to help find one. I hope you will consider contributing to my efforts to raise money. You can make a difference!

Beverly Covey
CoVA Walk to End Alzheimer’s®
Join Beverly at


Why I Walk with Melissa Minkowski


My dad was diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 55. My grandma Elsie (my dad’s mom) passed from Alzheimer’s. Oh, what I would’ve given to know then what I know now…

Now, my husband and I are now going through different forms of dementia with his parents. To see 3 of your 4 parental figures in your life go through dementia or Alzheimer’s is something that I’ve come to see as a sign to get involved, to spread the word, spread awareness, to get educated, to help others, to support others with whatever knowledge I pick up from the experiences that I’ve seen or endured. No one prepares you for what you have to do or see when you have to take care of your parents.

This walk is to honor not only my Dad, but my Mom who is amazing and loving and supports my dad and myself every day. This is also for our family/friends (because our friends are our family) that love him near and far. And it’s for those that are going through similar heartache and loss. I hope to help those that are new to this shift in “normal”. And to help everyone know that we are all together in this.

Please take the time to help educate, donate to research and development, walk with us or simply share this with your friends and family. Every little bit counts.