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Honorary walk chairman Randy Calleja, his wife Debbie and members of their family lead New Richmond’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s at The Deerfield on Saturday, Sept. 21. (Photo by Micheal Foley)

Alzheimer's Walk surpasses $33,000 fundraising goal

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New Richmond's Walk to End Alzheimer's will easily surpass its $33,000 fundraising goal at its event at The Deerfield on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 21, according to walk chairman Jackie Waalen, director of Resident Services at The Deerfield. Pledged matching donations and funds raised from the silent auction had yet to be factored into the total.

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"The turnout was surprising and overwhelming," Waalen said. "This is by far our biggest walk for St. Croix County and Pierce County. All the proceeds stay in this greater St. Croix County-Pierce County area.”

More than 350 people registered to participate in the event, Waalen said.

Before the event, The Deerfield was abuzz with walkers registering, purchasing paper forget-me-not flowers, placing tribute flags, bidding on silent auction items and preparing themselves for the walk.

Klondike Kate sang the National Anthem, and honorary walk chairman Randy Calleja delivered the opening remarks before leading the walkers on the 2-mile route down West Eighth Street, onto 125th Street through a housing development and back.

“It was awesome to look back and see the trail of people,” Calleja said.

Among the walkers were members of the UW-River Falls men’s hockey team donned in their game jerseys, along with Head Coach Steve Freeman. Calleja has two sons who played for the Falcons, one who graduated recently.

Freeman said he saw an article about the walk in the River Falls Journal and decided to participate.

“It went very well, and it was a lot of fun,” Freeman said. “It’s important for our program to get out and support the community any way we can, and what better cause than Alzheimer’s disease. It touches all of us. I think everyone knows someone with this terrible disease.”

After the walk, the walkers gathered back inside The Deerfield for a ceremony to recognize the team with the most dollars raised, the team with the most walkers, the individual who raised the most money, the winner of the spirit award, a light lunch and the conclusion of the silent auction.

The mood was light and festive despite the purpose being such a grave illness.

“It hits every family in one way or another,” Calleja said. “We just hope that with doing things that we’re doing today and raising money that we’ll come up with a cure for everybody that’s here, and our for kids and our grandkids, and for the future to come.”

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Micheal Foley
Micheal Foley joined RiverTown Multimedia in July 2013 and serves as editor at the New Richmond News. In the past he has worked at several news outlets including Patch.com in Hudson, Wis., the Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., the Leader-Telegram in Eau Claire, Wis., and the Pioneer Press in St. Paul, Minn. He began his career as a Marine Corps journalist. He served as a reporter and photographer in Okinawa, Japan, and editor of the base newspaper at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin–River Falls.
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