Alzheimer’s art projects put more than color in life

Walk to End Alzheimer's set for September 7

A man painting a watercolor (KOIN 6 News, file)
A man painting a watercolor (KOIN 6 News, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Ray Waltz is a former restaurateur, but his memory is failing. He and others get together at the Alzheimer’s Association on Naito Parkway and bond.

“We get together, all of us that have Alzheimer’s, we make friends with each other and we just have a great time,” Waltz told KOIN 6 News. “We’re doing art. I love it.”

Join the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Sunday, Sept. 7.

But being at the Alzheimer’s Association is about more than putting color on a canvas. It’s about putting color into your life.

“You try to stay up,” he said. “You try to stay happy and do things.”

But it isn’t easy.

A watercolor painting in Portland, Aug. 21, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
A watercolor painting in Portland, Aug. 21, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

“It’s really helpful to have this group, to have this support. None of us know how we could do the job without it,” said his wife, Samantha Waltz. “So my friends carry me.”

Some of those friends work the phones raising money and wearing purple — the color of the Alzheimer’s movement.

Kara Busick is coordinating the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Sunday, Sept. 7 at the Portland International Raceway. KOIN 6 is a sponsor of the event.

She’s also one of the people on the phones trying to raise money. She said one person she spoke with “was really excited that we didn’t make them dump ice on themselves.”

The goal of the walk and the fundraising is $710,000 for care, research and support.

“I think what makes our walk particularly interesting is that we have no survivors of this disease,” she said. “There’s no one to come back and tell that story and champion all their friends and family to donate.”

Currently there are 59,000 Oregonians with Alzheimer’s, she said.

“When you get this disease, it’s tough,” Ray Waltz said. “You don’t know what to do. It’s nice to meet other people, see what they’re doing.”

It’s also good for the families.

“The biggest challenge that as caretakers we face is helping our loved ones with depression, with feeling that life’s still worthwhile,” Samantha said.

“Ray really works to have a good attitude, so I think we’re doing OK.”

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