Merced agricultural family starts Walk team to honor grandfather
Marc Marchini participates in the Merced Walk to End Alzheimer’s to honor his grandfather, Ron Tesone, who is currently living with Alzheimer’s disease. Marc shares how his grandfather’s diagnosis inspired Marc to make his own lifestyle changes. Now Marc helps find sponsors for the Walk and encourages others to start a team.
A teacher and a coach
Ron Tesone grew up in Planada, about 10 miles east of Merced, and met his wife Margaret in high school. He was incredibly smart and had dreams of becoming an astronaut. Sadly, he failed one of the entrance exams and had to come up with a new dream. Instead, Ron became a teacher for eighth graders and instantly fell in love with it.
When Ron was in college, he played football for Fresno State. He used this experience to coach football at the Planada Elementary. He continued to teach and coach for another 25 years before retiring in his 40s.
At this point, Margaret and Ron had had two children of their own and four grandkids. They spent Ron’s retirement taking the grandkids on trips. “Hawai’i was their favorite spot,” said Marc. “They’d take us to the mountains or the beaches. They were big on spending time with their grandkids.”
After retiring from teaching, Ron had free time to try something new. His son-in-law’s father needed help with sales at J. Marchini Farms, a company that farms and sells produce. Because Ron was good with numbers, they offered him the job. Marc’s two grandfathers worked so well together that they decided to create a new company, Minturn Nut Company, which sells almonds.
A surprising diagnosis
It was a big shock to Ron’s family when, in 2004, he announced he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “We were really surprised,” said Marc. “I never noticed anything. I don’t know if it was that I wasn’t with him very often, or if it was because I was younger. I’m sure my grandma noticed the signs.”
10 years later in 2014, Ron decided he could no longer run the Minturn Nut Company and stepped down from the board. “My grandpa never stopped working,” said Marc. “He ran the Minturn Nut Company until he had to retire because he had Alzheimer’s.” Marc currently holds his grandfather’s seat on the board.
Marc later found out that his grandmother received a lot of help and support from the Alzheimer’s Association’s® 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900). The helpline is available around the clock, 365 days a year. Through this free service, specialists and master’s-level clinicians offer confidential support and information to people living with dementia, caregivers, families and the public.
Growing evidence indicates that people can reduce their risk of cognitive decline by adopting key lifestyle habits. While there is no way to know what specifically caused Ron to get Alzheimer’s disease, Marc wonders if the fact that his grandfather was overweight played a role.
Of course, some people lead a healthy lifestyle and still develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Marc is taking steps to reduce his risk of getting Alzheimer’s. “I felt the need to be healthier,” shared Marc. “I was very overweight, and that was something I was able to control.”
The Alzheimer’s Association offers 10 ways to love your brain to reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s or another dementia. One of the ways to reduce your risk is to adopt a healthy and balanced diet. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited, certain diets, including Mediterranean and Mediterranean-DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), may contribute to risk reduction.
Starting a team
Marc first learned about the Walk to End Alzheimer’s® in 2012 in a magazine; however he didn’t start walking until 2017. “I saw the Walk in a magazine and thought it would be great to get involved, but never acted on it,” said Marc.
“The Merced Walk to End Alzheimer’s held an event at Vista Ranch, which my wife runs. Cheryl Schrock, the Walk Manager, approached me and asked me to start a team.” After some encouragement from his wife, Marc started his team, Walking for Ron!!!!.
Marc invited family and friends of Ron to join his team. Team Walking for Ron!!!! showed up on Walk day with 20 people. Marc says, “It was a good turnout.”
What really impressed Marc was the event itself. “I was blown away,” said Marc. “They had a congressman there talking about a family member who had Alzheimer’s. The Promise Flower Ceremony had me crying. You see all of the people holding flowers. The camaraderie between all the other teams and how we’re all together. It was a good day.”
Coming back to Walk
Due to family issues, Marc and his family were unable to participate in Walk for a few years, but they came back strong in 2020. Because of the pandemic, participants were asked to Walk from their own communities instead of gathering at one location.
“I started telling more people about it,” said Marc. “I was getting donations and sponsorships. I raised a lot more money because I put more effort into it, even with it being a COVID Walk.”
Marc did such an amazing job in 2020 that he was asked to join the Walk Planning Committee. Marc says, “I use my contacts to get new sponsors for the Walk.”
As of the posting of this blog, team Walking for Ron!!!! has raised almost $7,000 and is the top team for the Merced Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
Start your own team
Walk to End Alzheimer’s is happening and Marc encourages you to start your own team and raise funds to help fund Alzheimer’s care, support and research. “Just do it,” says Marc. “You get to show that you care about something that makes you feel good inside. It’s about making time for other people. If you’re thinking about it, just make that commitment, make it happen. You won’t regret it.”
You can join Marc Marchini’s team, Walking for Ron!!!! or form your own team and join us for the Merced Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 2. Not near Merced? Register today at alz.org/walk to find out more about being a part of Walk in your community.