Fundraiser set for Saturday at Chase Palm Park
The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is returning Saturday to Chase Palm Park.
The walk, which is just over three miles, will begin at 10 a.m. at the park along Cabrillo Boulevard in Santa Barbara.
The event is open to anyone, and participants will honor those affected by Alzheimer’s with the poignant Promise Garden ceremony. Participants receive a flower in one of four colors, representing their personal connections to the cause.
Last year, nearly 600 participants attended the Santa Barbara Walk, raising $228,315 to fund the Alzheimer’s Association’s global research and local services throughout Santa Barbara County.
Vince Caballero, who participated in last year’s walk and plans to participate this year as well, talked to the News-Press about his wife Colleen, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Mr. Caballero is her primary caregiver.
“The symptoms started about four and a half years ago when we were living in Ojai, starting with an increase in anxiety due to isolation. She was semi-retired but used to a lot of activity,” Mr. Caballero told the News-Press. “She was a senior executive in the banking industry and very involved with her career. As her anxiety got very bad, we considered moving to Santa Barbara and moved here in 2019.”
“We didn’t see a lot of change and it started to get worse. She could no longer do bookkeeping. She was getting confused while driving and eventually stopped driving,” said Mr. Caballero.
An incident, which occurred prior to Mrs. Caballero’s diagnosis, brought the issue to the forefront.
A friend was at a dinner when Mrs. Caballero went to the bathroom. When she came back, she didn’t know who the friend was or why they were there, although her memory soon returned.
Mr. Caballero said his wife was diagnosed in 2020. “Her long term memory is very good. She socializes in the moment but afterward asks questions like, ‘Who were we with? Did I have a good time? Was I OK?”
“There are great moments, special little moments like sending love texts etc. I work on cherishing the good moments and continuing to work through challenges caregivers have,” said Mr. Caballero.
The News-Press asked Mr. Caballero how his wife’s diagnosis has impacted their lives.
“I would say fear, anger, and the inability to do various things on her own. She needs help on a daily basis,” Mr. Caballero said. “It has changed our life. We were expecting a great retirement. She worked extremely hard. It’s not what we signed up for, but we are making the best of it.
“If there is anything good coming out of COVID, it was that it gave me the ability to work from home, giving me the ability to take care of her. I have a routine everyday, and I have a friend that helps out so I can go do my job.”
Mr. Caballero plans on participating in Saturday’s walk.
“I am in the process of finalizing our plan for our team,” he said. “It’s completely voluntary that different lines of business in Santa Barbara come together and help to support the fight to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.”
Mr. Caballero’s team is the MUFG Union Bank.
He has this advice for other caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s: “Embrace family and friends. Don’t let it take you over; you have to have time as a caregiver for yourself. Don’t shut people out. Keep life as normal as possible.”