Karate kids help to end Alzheimer’s

Abel, 8, breaks boards to raise money for Alzheimer's research.

Abel, 8, breaks boards to raise money for Alzheimer’s research.

By Rachel Turner

Photos & videos courtesy of Taylor Jackson and Darcy Drefs

LaRayne Jackson, a high-energy 68-year-old business woman, plans to change the fate of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease with the help of her family. “We raise money through the Walk, my daughter uses martial arts for fundraising and my granddaughter has spoken at events.”

LaRayne's granddaughters, Taylor and Tori Jackson, pose at the Tri-Cities Walk to End Alzheimer's. “With my grandfather passing away, it was a very long goodbye,” said Taylor. “The walk is a way to have his memory live on for my family. I want to help other people and find a cure for the disease.”

LaRayne’s granddaughters, Taylor and Tori Jackson, pose at the Tri-Cities Walk to End Alzheimer’s. “With my grandfather passing away, it was a very long goodbye,” said Taylor. “The walk is a way to have his memory live on for my family. I want to help other people and find a cure for the disease.”

And that’s only what three family members have done. The entire Jackson family is highly involved in raising awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. LaRayne’s husband, Doug, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at age 50. He passed away at 66. Family members from both sides of Doug’s family have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “My three kids are concerned,” said LaRayne. “There is a possibility that they could inherit the gene as well.”

LaRayne’s daughter, Darcy, teaches martial arts and involves her students by hosting a break-o-thon fundraiser at Idaho ATA Martial Arts in Idaho Falls. Each participant stands in the center of a room surrounded by people holding boards for them to break. The participant has one minute to break as many boards as possible, each broken board is sponsored and supports their Walk team with a donation.

The tiny tigers, elementary age Karate students, can break up to thirty boards in a minute while older children and adults break up to ninety-five boards. “After the minute is up, I’m relieved,” said Darcy. “A minute is very long–you’re sweating and out of breath—and since you’re breaking in a circle, you can get dizzy.”

A student breaks boards to raise money for Alzheimer's research.

A student breaks boards to raise money for Alzheimer’s research.

The students look forward to the fundraising event each year, especially since they can choose whether to punch, kick or palm heel to break the boards. “It’s interesting because so many kids and adults are there,” said eight-year-old Abel. “It’s fun, really fun.”  The participants raised over $5,800 last year.

Darcy delivers the fundraised dollars at the Tri-Cities Walk to End Alzheimer’s each year. “Our family, friends and people Dad worked with all come out and support the Walk,” said Darcy. “It’s nice. It shows Dad touched a lot of lives. I hope this gets the Alzheimer’s Association one step closer to finding a cure or a preventative measure.”

LaRayne looks forward to walking each year with her team, Larsen Transfer, when her family and friends join together to help raise awareness. “We went through hard times, but came out on top,” said LaRayne. “Now we want to help anyone else going through it.”

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LaRayne Jackson’s team, Larsen Transfer, pose at the Tri-Cities Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Idaho ATA Martial Arts will hold this year’s break-o-thon on September 5. For more information visit idahofallsmartialarts.com.  To support the Larsen Transfer team or to start your own Walk to End Alzheimer’s team, click here.

For more information, contact Rachel Turner at rturner@alz.org.

Join the Jacksons’ and other advocates to change the fate of people living with dementia and their caregivers. Attend the Alzheimer’s Associations Town Hall event October 7 from 1:30-3:30 pm at the Richland Public Library. Contact Peter Newbould for more information, pnewbould@alz.org

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