Ready… set… drive!

Memory Drive aims to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s

by Mike Parks

Margaret Moody with her father, Dick Lunney, inside one of Lunney’s classic Austin-Healeys. Lunney and other classic car collectors will take part Nov. 13 in the 2010 Memory Drive – Drive to End Alzheimer’s. But when walkers head out to do their part toward raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research, Lunney and his friends will leave them all behind in a 65-mile poker rally stretching from SouthPark to Salisbury.

Dick Lunney’s not the kind of guy who likes to leave his classic cars shut away in the garage, under a cover or safely parked in storage. He wants them front and center for all to see, and he’ll get that chance in a big way during the 2010 Memory Drive – Drive to End Alzheimer’s.

Lunney, who lives in Huntersville, and his car enthusiast friends will have their best on display at SouthPark’s Symphony Park before the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk on Nov. 13. But when walkers head out to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research, Lunney and his friends will leave them all behind in a 65-mile poker rally stretching from SouthPark to Salisbury.

“I think Alzheimer’s is a disease that is very much front and center for my age group, the 50- to 70-year-olds,” said Lunney, who worries there’s an awareness issue that needs to be solved concerning the disease. “We’re starting to see friends … who are starting to get afflicted with this thing.”

That’s why Lunney, along with as many as 50 other car enthusiasts in the area, are hoping for beautiful weather next weekend to show off their vehicles and get attention for their cause.

Lunney’s passion is British sports cars, with an emphasis on Austin-Healeys. It’s a passion he shares with his daughter, Margaret Moody – program associate with the Alzheimer’s Association Western Carolina Chapter and driving force behind next Saturday’s event.

“Our main goal is just to get awareness out to this (50 to 70) group,” Moody said. “To take … Alzheimer’s from being that hush-hush word to being something people talk about.” Moody got her first car – an Austin-Healey Sprite – at 16.

And while Moody wants to make her father and his friends more aware of a disease they up-to-now might have ignored, she has another reason to care: her husband, Christopher Moody, has seen both grandmothers and an uncle suffer from Alzheimer’s.

“It is imperative our community talk openly about Alzheimer’s and the debilitating effects it has on individuals suffering from the disease,” Christopher Moody said. “Not only will this increase community awareness, it will draw attention on both a federal and local level for the need to increase funding into Alzheimer’s disease.”

The Memory Drive will go to Willow Grove Retirement Living in Matthews after leaving SouthPark. There, residents will get to check out the cars before drivers leave to begin winding their way into Union County and then Cabarrus County, before eventually stopping at Salisbury’s VA Medical Center in Rowan County and the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer.

Registration for the event is $40, which includes breakfast, lunch for two people, two T-shirts and a train ride at the museum. Visit www.alz.org/northcarolina or call Margaret Moody at 704-941-9937 or Lunney at 704-948-1745 to register.

“Why have a classic car just sitting in your garage?” Lunney asked. “We enjoy driving them. So, when a worthy charity unveils itself, it’s kind of a no-brainer.”

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