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story.lead_photo.caption Gerry Tritz/News Tribune Emcee Christa Roehl, right, starts off Sunday's Walk to End Alzheimer's at Memorial Park.

Karen Kempker, along with her siblings and family members, made the difficult decision to put her father in a nursing home in January 2020, after they determined he needed professional care to manage his dementia.

This year, they formed a team for Sunday's Walk to End Alzheimer's in honor of her father, Fred Reinkemeyer.

"We hope that they find a cure before the rest of the family has to go through anything like that," Kempker said.

She said she was glad to see so many people come out to support the cause. Several hundred people attended.

Kempker's team raised $820 as of Sunday, and they hope to come back next year.

They and other participants raised more than $100,000, blowing away the goal of $78,000.

"Alzheimer's is destroying our families, our finances and our future — and it's time to end it," emcee Christa Roehl said at the beginning of the event. "The money we raise helps the Alzheimer's Association lead the way to end Alzheimer's and all other dementia by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detention and maximizing quality care and support."

The top individual fundraiser at the event was Roehl, who raised $24,289. The top team was Roehl and Friends, which raised $29,601.

"On behalf of the millions of Americans affected by this disease, we deeply appreciate your time and help in raising essential awareness and funds for Alzheimer's care, support and research," Roehl said.

"We need to fight this terrible disease on every possible front because Alzheimer's is not stopping and neither are we!" she said to applause.

Joe Pallikkathayil, the senior walk manager for the Alzheimer's Association, said this year's event was easily the biggest ever in Jefferson City.

"The whole reason we do this walk is to connect people with the fact that they're not alone in this fight," he said. "This disease can be very isolating. I've even felt it myself trying to talk about what my dad was going through with our own family members.

"That's what we're doing this for, just to bring hope back to people," Pallikkathayil said. "Over the last 20 years, we've accelerated the progress toward a cure, but we're still a ways off. I know the money raised this year at this event might not provide a cure in time for my dad. But I have hope that because of what we're doing today, my daughter won't lose me the way I'm losing him."

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