Walk to honor grandfather, raise research funds

Sue Guinn Legg • Feb 27, 2014 at 9:10 AM

David Sweitzer, a 23-year-old Bristol man whose grandfather is slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease, is preparing to set out on a 2,175-mile “Walk to Remember.”To raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s research and the work of regional Alzheimer’s Association office, Sweitzer will hike the entire Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine, beginning March 26, his 24th birthday.He is making the walk in honor of his grandfather, Nathan Sweitzer, an 86-year-old retired Air Force veteran whom he helped care for at his parents home in Bristol following his graduation from college.“Acting as a caregiver for my grandfather has given me the personal experiences of painfully watching my dad, Dr. Don Sweitzer, slowly lose his father to the terrible deteriorating effects of this disease. For the past few years our entire family has experienced how sad it is to see my grandfather not only forget who we are but forget who he is.”While hiking the entire AT is something Sweitzer has always wanted to do, he said his sincere hope is the hike will help bring a promising breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research.His fundraising goal for the Alzheimer’s Association is $15,000, of which he has already raised $4,300 through an appeal-letter campaign and an online link to the Alzheimer’s Association’s Tri-Cities Walk to End Alzheimer’s. His appeal-letter campaign is continuing and by the time he leaves for Georgia his goal is to have placed 1,000 letters in the mail to area businesses and individuals who may be willing help.For those who wish to contribute, tax-deductible donations to the Alzheimer’s Association earmarked for “David Sweitzer” may be made by mail to the Alzheimer’s Association of Northeast Tennessee, 207 N. Boone St., Suite 25, Johnson City, TN 37604.To donate to Sweitzer’s walk online and to watch for updates and photos of his March to September journey on the trail, go to alz.org/walk and click on “Find a Walk Near You.” Enter any Tri-Cities area zip code, click on Bristol, TN, enter David Sweitzer in the “Find a Walker” search box, then click on “Walker, Sweitzer, David.”While the local Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Bristol Motor Speedway will not be held until Oct. 4, contributions to Sweitzer’s Walk to Remember have already earned him the walk page’s Grand Champion Club medal for participants who raise more than $1,000 and his list of local contributors is already scrolling.“It will be a heck of an adventure,” he promised.For more information about Sweitzer’s efforts and resources available to patients and families through the regional association office, call 928-4080 or visit the office at 207 N. Boone St., Suite 25.Tuesday is National Pancake Day at IHOP, an opportunity to have a hearty breakfast and help provide Children’s Miracle Network services to children receiving care at local Wellmont Health System hospitals.Now in its ninth year, National Pancake Day offers IHOP diners a free short stack of pancakes in exchange for a donation to the Children’s Miracle Network.Wellmont Health System has been the Children’s Miracle Network local affiliate for more than 25 years and all donations made at Tri-Cities area IHOP restaurants on Tuesday will be used for special equipment and services provided to children in the pediatric, neonatal intensive care and emergency departments at its local hospitals.“Corporate sponsors such as IHOP and individuals throughout our region make a tremendous difference in the quality of life for children entrusted to our care. We thank everyone who donates on National Pancake Day and every other day of the year for assisting us with the healing of children,” Todd Norris, president of the Wellmont Foundation, saidDonations to the Children’s Miracle Network can also made at any time online at www.wellmontfoundation.org or www.childrensmiraclenetworkhospitals.org.If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.

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