Athlete honors grandfather with donation

NOTE: The version of this story that appeared in Issue 9 of The Whitworthian incorrectly stated that the donation had been sent to the Inland Northwest Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.  It should have read as being sent to the Washington State Chapter. The article in this online edition reflects this change.

by Peter Houston-Hencken
Sports Editor

Senior George Valle has chosen the Alzheimer’s Association for his $100 donation reward after winning a shooting contest organized by The Whitworthian.

Valle, along with four other athletes from both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, met in Graves Gym on Sunday, Feb. 7 to compete in a shooting contest. Sophomore Callie Harwood, senior Faith Emerson and juniors Kenny Love and Christian Jurlina joined Valle in a challenge to successfully shoot the most Nerf basketballs into miniature hoops.

After making 17 baskets within the two-minute time limit, Valle was awarded $100 to donate to a charity of his choice. Valle decided to donate the money to the Alzheimer’s Association.

“My grandpa on my dad’s side passed away in 2011,” Valle said. “Alzheimer’s contributed a lot to his passing.”

Odd Valle—George’s grandfather—started showing signs of short term memory loss around the time Valle entered high school. However, by the time Valle reached his junior year, it was clear that his grandfather had Alzheimer’s.

“He asked who his grandchildren are,” Valle said. “Stuff like that really impacts you. I was at an age where you were really able to understand what’s going on and how serious of an issue it is.”
Valle’s donation has been sent to the Washington State Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association which strives to provide education and support for families dealing with Alzheimer’s.

“Alzheimer’s really needs to have an awareness in not only this community but internationally,” Alzheimer’s Association events coordinator Leslie Woodfill said. “In Washington State there are over 100,000 people with Alzheimer’s disease.”

The Alzheimer’s Association is also planning a major event in October. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s will take place to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. Woodfill hopes to see upwards of a thousand participants this year.

The Alzheimer’s Association has also received donations from Whitworth’s Alzheimer’s Club led by co-presidents Devon Wattenbarger and Forest Dexter. The club has held fundraisers and auctions to raise money for Alzheimer’s research.

“We don’t get any money ourselves,” Wattenbarger said. “Any money we get goes right to research.”

While many organizations and groups have donated money and effort to help find a cure to Alzheimer’s, Woodfill says that more and more people will likely be diagnosed with this disease.

“The research that needs to happen can save my kids and your kids and your grandkids and my grandkids,” Woodfill said. “If a cure isn’t found, it’s just going to get worse and worse.”

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