Walkathon to raise funds for Alzheimer's patients

Event sponsored by Melabev: non-profit organization running clubs for Alzheimer's patients.

The Melabev organization's second annual Walkathon, aimed at raising money for the care of Alzheimer's disease patients and for research into the neurological disorder of the aging, will be held on Monday through Wednesday. Participants will hike along ISPN trails and the Israel Trail from Tel Hai, winding down to Almagor on the shores of the Kinneret. Melabev is a Jerusalem-based non-profit organization that runs nine day care centers and "memory clubs" for elderly men and women with Alzheimer's symptoms, and offers support services for their family caregivers. "The major victims of the disease are the families," said Melabev co-founder and director Leah Abramowitz. "They are the people who carry the burden for their loved one continuously, day after day, around the clock. The positive attitude of the professional staff and volunteers of Melabev keeps the elderly wanting to return to their day centers and by itself that begins to reduce the pressures on the families." The Walkathon is sponsored by The Jerusalem Post and has the support of Aroma, the Wasserman Family and Archaeological Seminars. On Sunday night, buses took the walkers to Kfar Giladi, near their starting point, where they spent the night, so they would be rested and ready to start hiking early Monday. Three days and 54 kilometers later, they will enjoy a festive dinner in Ein Gev before being taken by bus back to Jerusalem. Last year's Walkathon by the Friends of Melabev raised more than $60,000, but a much higher sum is hoped for this year. Over the last 24 years, Melabev has sought out innovative social and therapeutic to strengthen the remaining skills of the elderly and enhance their sense of well-being. One of their unique projects is a computer program called Savyon with four mental exercises to stimulate cognitive and memory abilities. The chat room on its Web site (www.melabev.org) offers reliable answers to questions about Alzheimer's from experienced professionals. To sponsor a walker, make it possible for someone to join who cannot afford the costs of participation or to otherwise help underwrite the costs of the event, call the Melabev office at (02) 655-5826. For details of the walk and to register, call the Walkathon office at (02) 993-4269 or see the Web site.