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IV Alzheimer's Group takes new direction

PERU – Due to conflicting views of how to serve the needs of the Illinois Valley and its residents, the Illinois Valley Alzheimer's Group has severed ties with the Peoria Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association and will be providing its services locally.

"There were ways we wanted to spend our money. We wanted to give $2,400 to research, but they wouldn't allow us to," said Peg Gonet, support group facilitator. "It's been kind of a, 'They need us and our funding, but they won't help us.' This has been a problem for us for the last year."

As a result of the break, the funding that the IVAG receives from donations and events will stay in the Illinois Valley to provide assistance for local residents.

Many of the local volunteers of the IVAG have been working with the organization since 2000. Most started as the planning group of the Illinois Valley Memory Walk, a fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association. This group planned several additional fundraisers throughout the year, including the Boo Milby Memory Run which more than doubled the income of the Alzheimer's Association that came from the Illinois Valley.

"The Memory Walk itself only made about $7,500 the first year I was involved. After Joanne Milby organized the 5K run in honor of her husband, that amount tripled," said Kelly Klobucher, former Memory Walk coordinator. "This effort was independent for the association, but the Milby family generously donated the entire proceeds of the run to it. It was amazing to see our community rally and support the Milby family.

"The IVAG has repeatedly requested additional services and programs for this area to go along with the increase in funds raised. The Peoria Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association has instead reduced resources, citing the economy, staffing issues and the distance from their office," said Klobucher.

Klobucher said the IVAG also requested assistance to pay for speakers and support group meetings. This request was denied.

"After our request was denied, we decided to use the funds raised from the 5K run and other small events to provide needed resources to the support group instead of donating it to the Peoria Chapter," said Gonet. "We also learned the Peoria Chapter has attempted to contact sponsors of the Boo Milby Memory Run to have those donations sent to Peoria."

"On June 14, we were contacted by Nikki Vulgaris, executive director of the Peoria Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. She informed us that she was cancelling our speaker for June 18 and wrote that the Peoria Chapter will not support efforts which are independent from the association," Gonet said.

The executive committee of the Illinois Valley Alzheimer's Group recently discussed future plans and wants to continue providing support for the community. All proceeds from the Boo Milby 5K Memory Run will stay in the area and will fund education and support programs locally.

"Don't get me wrong. I encourage people to use the 24 call-line and the other resources that the Peoria Chapter can offer," Gonet said. "We're just not affiliated with them.

"It is important that people know that if they donate to IVAG, their donation will help local people, which is something the Peoria Chapter is either unwilling or unable to do," said Klobucher.

"We're doing rather well since the break. We've got money coming in because it'll stay in the Illinois Valley. We've got memorials coming in," said Gonet. "After the race, we will be donating some money to research."

The support group meets the third Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Red Cross building, 1530 Fourth Street, Peru.

The Boo Milby 5K Memory Run/Walk is Aug. 17 at Northwest School in LaSalle.

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