Center residents wheel into motion to raise funds to battle Alzheimer's

October 03, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

Joseph Kupin doesn't recognize his wife of 54 years anymore. He cannot brush his hair, cut his fingernails, shave or feed himself. He makes sounds, but cannot talk or stand. These things now are done with the help of his wife, Helen.

Mr. Kupin, diagnosed eight years ago with Alzheimer's disease, was among 50 patients at the Meridian Nursing Center in Brooklyn Park who participated in a walk and wheel-a-thon to raise money to fight the progressive, degenerative brain disease. Again, his wife helped him.

Mrs. Kupin, 76, pushed her husband's wheelchair around the nursing center last Tuesday, then collected pledges based on the distance covered. "We do this . . because we love them," she explained. "It's my husband."

Proceeds from the second annual walk and wheel-a-thon will go to the Baltimore/Central Maryland Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. So far this year, the walkers and wheelers at the Brooklyn Park center have raised $1,857. That's $500 more than last year's total, and all the money hasn't been counted, said Laura Belcastro, a nurse at the center and organizer of the wheelchair event.

When Mrs. Kupin got tired of pushing her husband's heavy wheelchair, a friend took over and she helped to pass out cookies, juice and candy to the seniors as their chairs whirled by the finish line in the center's dining room.

As she watched her 80-year-old husband pass by again in his chair, Mrs. Kupin said he did not know whether he was indoors or outdoors. "That's what Alzheimer's does," she said. "It just steals them away. He's here and yet he's not here."

Some of the seniors tired more quickly than others and dropped out. They were returned to the dining room where they ate and listened to such string band tunes as "Aladdin's Lucky Day," "Melodious Merry Makers" and "There's a Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder." Others finished all 25 laps.

"More?" asked the nurse pushing Lillian Moore.

"It's up to you, honey bun," replied Mrs. Moore, and around they went again.

Not everyone who participated in the walk and wheel-a-thon had an Alzheimer's sufferer in the family. But all said they wanted to do something to help those who did.

"You never know as they get even a little bit older what can happened," said Norma Browne, sitting at a table with her twin sister, Nancy Johnson, and their 90-year-old mother, Alice Metzbower.

Though Mrs. Metzbower does not have Alzheimer's, her daughters and other family members and friends sponsored her in the wheel-a-thon to benefit those who do have the disease.

Residents with Alzheimer's may not always be aware of what is going on around them, but Ms. Belcastro said she likes to think that they enjoy "the companionship of the staff working with them, walking with them."

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