Willie Werner

Willie Werner and his mother, Kristin, will be among the participants in the Dementia Walk Saturday morning at The Lutheran Home in Belle Plaine. The walk raises awareness of dementia and provides dementia patients support and the opportunity to enjoy a walk outdoors.

Willie Werner plans to spend Saturday morning walking with residents at The Lutheran Home Saturday morning and not time with friends. He’ll also be thinking about his grandmother in Germany.

Werner, his mother, Kristin, and their family will participate in the second annual “Stepping Forward” Dementia Walk from The Lutheran Home campus on West Main Street to KingsPath on West Commerce Drive Saturday, Aug. 4. The walk is intended to raise awareness of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. After expenses are covered, funds raised Saturday will go toward patient service and research toward a cure for dementia.

Participants can pre-register online at www.tlha.org or register on-site at 8 a.m. Registration costs $7 for children and $20 for adults. The fee includes a T-shirt, pinwheel and swag bag. After an opening ceremony at 8 a.m., the two-mile walk begins at 9 a.m. from The Lutheran Home at 611 Main St. W. Post-walk activities from 10 to 11 a.m. include face-painting, balloon twisting and live music by the Vine Garage Band.

Werner, an eighth-grader at Trinity Lutheran School, is one of the school’s students who’ll enjoy a walk with residents enduring life with dementia. His grandmother in Duren, Germany suffers with dementia. Gisela Werner is 79 and about halfway through her journey with the disease, said Willie’s mother, Kristin Werner.

Willie is more than willing to give a morning he’d otherwise spend sleeping late or hanging out with friends to help his grandmother, even if she’s thousands of miles away.

“She’s family,” Willie said. “That means we should look after her and help her any way we can.”

The Werner family visited with Gisela last summer when they visited Germany. It was the first time they’ve seen her since Kristin’s husband – Gisela’s son, Ingo – passed away in 2016. She remembers some things but not others.

Werner and his classmates at Trinity Lutheran spent time with dementia patients at The Lutheran Home last year. The students, under staff supervision, walked and visited with residents. He expects to spend more time this year with the residents. Werner hopes to learn more about the past from residents and allow them to enjoy time sharing the memories they recall.

“I think it’ll be fun to walk around with people and learn some things about their past and history,” he said.

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