If you’ve been in this area for long, you may have noticed an awful lot of bicycles appear on our roads each July. Well, get ready! They’re coming our way soon as part of A Ride to Remember, an annual cycling event hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association South Carolina Chapter.

Riding to remember: Alzheimer’s fundraiser coming through Orangeburg County

This cross-state cycling event will pass through our area on July 13-14 as riders make their way from the Upstate to Charleston. More than 330 riders are pedaling over 250 miles over the course of three days to raise funds for the research, care and support efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. If you’d like to come out and cheer them on – or avoid related traffic – you can check out their route at www.aridetoremember.org.

Karen Williams left her mark

I’m proud that this event has chosen to return here for 11 years running, thanks in no small part to the hospitality shown to them by the communities along their route. For example, I’m proud that it’s become a tradition for riders to make a pit stop at the town hall in North. The town council graciously opens the chamber’s doors so riders can refuel on pickle juice and peanut butter-jelly sandwiches, but they linger to enjoy a luxurious few minutes in air conditioning before they get back on the road.

Advocacy in action: Alzheimer's group officials say support for caregivers vital

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I don’t have to tell you that July in South Carolina is HOT, so you know that these folks are committed. People travel from across South Carolina and from several other states to experience this unique trip across the state. Some do it for challenge, some do it for the camaraderie, but all of them do it because they want to see an end to Alzheimer’s and related dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is devastating – not only for the more than 5.8 million Americans living with the disease, but also for the more than 16 million family and friends serving as caregivers. Here in South Carolina, there are 92,000 people living with Alzheimer’s and 313,000 family members involved in their care. I’ve seen firsthand as family caregivers are forced to juggle competing priorities including work and other family responsibilities. These caregivers are stretched thin. Many are overwhelmed; all of them could use some help.

If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or any type of dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association has resources that can help. They offer caregiver support groups, a 24/7 helpline (800-272-3900), care consultation, a wanderer’s identification program, education and many more services.

The Alzheimer’s Association can also connect you with an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Respite Program, which my colleagues and I in the S.C. General Assembly are glad to fund each year through the Department of Mental Health. This important program helps caregiver’s access short-term care assistance in order to give them a chance to take care of themselves as well.

Thank you for supporting this cause as a community – and thanks to the cyclists and volunteers of A Ride to Remember for giving so much time and energy to fight a disease that impacts so many.

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Democrat Russell L. Ott is a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives representing District 93 in Calhoun, Lexington and Orangeburg counties. Ott is an agriculture businessman residing in St. Matthews.


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