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Combat Vets March to End Alzheimer’s

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By Tom Konecny

A lot of people want to help veterans and those in the armed forces, but they don’t know how. Two members of the U.S. Army Reserve are giving Americans a chance to help, and they’re not just talking the talk – they’re literally walking the walk.

That’s because on Friday, September 7, Tim Welbaum and Scott Doney of Adrian, Michigan, will march for 33 miles with 35-pound packs on their backs in an effort to raise money for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, an annual event held in more than 600 communities nationwide. Operated by the Alzheimer’s Association, it’s the world’s largest event to build awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Welbaum is a major in the Reserve, and Doney is a specialist.

While serving overseas, Welbaum, 36, participated in countless ruck marches, whereby soldiers carried heavy packs of equipment for up to 20 miles. After returning from a tour of Afghanistan in 2015, Welbaum opened Visiting Angels South Central Michigan, a home care agency that provides quality care to seniors and disabled adults; Doney serves as its manager. Welbaum has a direct stake in the fight to end Alzheimer’s – Visiting Angels assists many veterans who deal with Alzheimer’s.

“We had to do a lot of (ruck marches) with soldiers, but I’ve never done anything more than 20 miles,” said Welbaum. “To do 33 (miles) at my age is taking on quite a bit. However, as a home care owner, I’ve seen so much pain, that this pain I’ll be going through for one day is nothing compared to the grand scale I deal with every day.”

Welbaum and Doney, 29, plan to depart at 2:00 a.m. and arrive by 3:30 p.m. in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the Alzheimer Association Great Lakes Chapter office is located. They plan to raise $33,000 – one dollar for each mile – but they need the help of donors.

They’re hoping to raise funds before the march, but they’ll accept donations through the end of the year. All donations go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association, a 501c3 non-profit. Online donations can be made at http://act.alz.org/goto/Tim. Checks can be made payable to “The Alzheimer’s Association” and mailed to 235 N. Main St., Adrian, MI 49221.

“One of the reasons I’m doing this is that I’m a home care agency owner and I see these families torn apart,” said Welbaum. “One in three of us will end up statistically getting this. Out of the top ten diseases that kill people, Alzheimer’s is number six, and the only one in the top ten that does not have a cure.”

Though Welbaum will be taking breaks and stopping for lunch, he knows that the ruck march will get rough about halfway through as their pace will start to slow down. Their goal is to average about 18-20 minutes per mile. As difficult as this march will be, Welbaum is motivated by his concern of others and his country.

“I absolutely love serving my country,” he said. “We do a lot for our senior vets.”

For more information, contact Visiting Angels at 517-920-4254 or visit https://www.visitingangels.com/southcentralmi/event-walk-to-end-alzheimers.

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