Cuyahoga Falls native William Bohnak is on the road to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
Literally. In fact, he’s going to spend the next year walking across the country working toward it.
The 20-year-old Fortis College graduate began his “A Journey for the Memories” charity walk to fight the degenerative dementia disease Aug. 1, inspired by the painful slide his grandmother made from the disease before her death five years ago.
“She really changed as a result of Alzheimer’s,” Bohnak told Patch in an exclusive roadside interview.
“She was a compassionate, playful and fun loving person… I was in seventh grade when she was diagnosed, and being so young, I didn’t know what that meant until she started getting worse.”
With stops including Pittsburgh, New York City, Tampa, Dallas, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and many U.S. cities, Bohnak hopes to raise funds and awareness for a number of Alzheimer’s-related organizations, including the National Alzheimer’s Association.
He’s dedicating the walk and its results to her memory.
Between the din of oncoming automobile traffic along Route 224 in Deerfield headed to Canfield, Bohnak describes his grandmother as “strong woman” who eventually began forgetting things—first memories, then names, then far, far worse.
“Her personality and demeanor really changed,” Bohnak said. “Eventually, she forgot how to swallow and doctors told us she was passing away due to pneumonia she couldn’t recover from.”
Bohnak couldn’t bear to witness the dramatic change and stopped visiting before her death.
“It’s one of the biggest regrets I’ll ever have,” he said.
With an associate degree in Criminal Justice, Bohnak decided before forging a new career path, he would take facts, figures and his real world perspective on Alzheimer’s across America.
Bohnak says he will be on the road “until sometime in the fall of 2012.” Along the way, he is planning on “co-hosting events and having small join-up walks, where people can walk along on a leg of the trip.”
There people can learn about the rest of his support team, make donations to Alzheimer’s charities and support the food-and-lodging overhead he’ll incur on the walk.
Donation pages are expected go live on Bohnak’s web site shortly.