Yakima woman shares family's struggle with Alzheimer's disease, encourages others to help

Yakima woman shares family's struggle with Alzheimer's disease, encourages others to help

YAKIMA, Wash. -- A Yakima woman is sharing her family's struggle with a devastating disease.

"Chris was a very happy fun loving guy, loved life, in our home we had a lot of laughter," Debbie Hunter said.

Nine years ago, life was good for the Hunter family.

The close-knit family of five went camping and spent time together whenever they could.

But when dad and husband Chris turned 45, things began to go south.

"Within two years, he forgot the kids first, then our home, then me, started leaving, wandering on a regular basis," Debbie said.

Chris went for testing, and soon learned the heartbreaking news.

He was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Debbie says Chris declined rapidly.

His family made the difficult decision to place him in care at just 48 years old.

"The hardest part has been watching my children try to tell him about life experiences and he doesn't know who they are," Debbie said.

Now, Debbie is devoted to spreading the word about Alzheimer's.

She's sharing she and her family's story, in hopes it can help others affected by the disease.

You can help Debbie in her mission by participating in the walk to end Alzheimer's this Saturday at Franklin Park in Yakima.

"The walk to end Alzheimer's is a chance to learn about the advocacy opportunities, learn about the disease and the programs that we offer in Washington state," Claire Fallat, an event coordinator with the Washington state chapter of the Alzheimer's Association said.

The walk helps raise money for research and awareness for the five million people diagnosed with disease nation-wide.

The Alzheimer's Association reports Alzheimer's as the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the third leading cause of death in the state.

"It is a rapidly growing disease and it affects the whole family, not just the individual," Fallat said.

Organizers hope hundreds will come out to the walk in Yakima in support of people like Chris.

"I want to see an end to this disease before my kids ever have to worry about it," Debbie said.

It's not too late to register for the walk.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. Saturday morning in Franklin Park.

You can sign up for the walk, or donate by clicking here.

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