Their average age is 85. One uses a cane for balance, one has had three back surgeries and another is legally blind, but eight seniors from Gold Country Retirement Community completed the Fabulous Forties 5K walk to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association on July 27 and they still know how to have fun.
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Three-point-two miles on a July morning is more than just a walk in the park, but most of the intrepid eight are daily walkers, either on a treadmill or around the Gold County-Missouri Flat Road area. Some of them belong to a walking club that regularly treks down El Dorado County trails. It was the first Alzheimer’s Walk for some of the group, which included Dot Wineger, 85, Agnes Hartmeyer, 85, Margaret Zarbock, 90, Lois Orr, 89, Jim King, 83, Esther Deogracia, 79, Marge Hubbell, 88, and Millie Chandler, 83. Gold Country Activities Director Mary Fatooh and staff members Dixie Adams, Trisha Raines, Pat Sirkin, Beverly Wilke and Mady Klempa joined the group on this walk.
Chandler’s husband, Charles, died of Alzheimer’s last September. ” I put his name on the Alzheimer’s Memorial Wall at East Lawn last year and I hadn’t seen it yet,” said Chandler, 83, who has done the walk before. Jim King’s wife died of Alzheimer’s too and so did Esther Deogracia’s father.
The members of the group started off from East Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Sacramento at their own individual pace, but some grouped up along the way. Lois Orr walked with Jim King and staff members Klempa and Dixie Adams. “I figured if I keeled over, I was in good hands,” cracked Orr. “The cemetery was a good place to start in case you dropped down dead.”
Walking through the Fabulous Forties neighborhoods with their beautiful old homes was fun, according to the group, especially with the encouragement of race staff and people along the course.
Agnes Hartmeyer is legally blind, but she completed the course and earned the “Lanterne Rouge” medal for being the last person to cross the finish line. “Lanterne Rouge” is a French term for the red lantern on the caboose of a train. Her medal is in a display case along with race shirts and bib numbers. A poster board display shows pictures of the walk and the names of the Gold Country participants, including employees who walked with the group.
“Along the walk, Agnes was starting to peter out. A Highway Patrolman who was monitoring traffic on the course gave her half of his muffin,” said Fatooh. “She sat down to eat it and it gave her the boost she needed to finish. Marge and I thought we were the last ones on the course, but along came Agnes chugging behind us.”
“We were tired the next day,” said Hubbell.
“I was tired for the next three days,” said Hartmeyer.
“It was so much fun,” said Chandler. “We’ll probably be back next year.”
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.