Nevada County woman walks for Dad

Walk to End Alzheimer’s® – Yuba City participant Sonja Normann lives near the Scotts Flat Lake area, outside of Nevada City. Sonia is currently the top fundraiser for the Walk in Yuba City, having raised over $3,600. She shared her Walk story with us.

How long have you participated in Walk to End Alzheimer’s?

This is my second year walking in Walk for Alzheimer’s – Yuba City. Prior to last year, I had participated in the Sacramento Walk for three years.

I am not with a Walk team – it’s just me, myself and I! It’s nice that people can form a team or sign up as an individual walker. 

My walk story actually began with my beloved mom, Ruth. Mom lived almost 800 miles away in a wonderful, supportive assisted living community that did a community fundraiser every year for the Walk for Alzheimer’s in Prescott, AZ. She participated every year for almost six years until she passed away at age 95. 

Who do you Walk for?

My beloved dad, Carl, lived in the same community, but in memory care. Mom and Dad provided my inspiration and strength for carrying on the mission of finding a cure for this insidious disease that takes so much from the person living with it, as well as the people who care for them. 

Sonja and her parents
Sonja with her parents

Since I lived at a distance, I never really got an official diagnosis that my dad had Alzheimer’s. Once during my yearly holiday visit, Mom vaguely confirmed what I had suspected. We had initially thought he was just depressed, as he was a very sensitive person. But, as time went on and I still was somewhat in denial, he started gradually losing his grasp on the reality of himself and others. 

I did not always know how to respond or act around him while our family was going through this long and painful journey. But what never changed in the face of this disease was that he was always my beloved dad who I loved with all of my heart! This is why I walk and support the efforts of fighting Alzheimer’s for a better future.

Tell us about your dad

Dad grew up on the shores of Lake Superior, WI. Upon graduating at the top of his class in high school he was called to serve his country in World War II. He flew the mighty B-29 airplanes on 27 missions over Japan. After surviving the war, he moved his parents and family to New Mexico for a better life. 

He built and owned his own duplex and apartments while working full time for the government. He was always looking out for others and was ready to assist them with whatever needs they had. 

It devastated me to see my smart, honorable dad decline. He suffered for almost 12 years before passing away in 2014. 

Sonja and her father

One of my favorite memories was of a four-day road trip we took, traveling from their home in Prescott to various destinations around Southern Colorado and the four corners area. 

Dad was always very cordial and friendly to all who he met. We even climbed down into a kiva on a ladder at Mesa Verde National Park when no one else would do it! 

When I was young, we would go on walks together and talk. Dad always talked to me, not as a child, but as an equal. 

Tell us about your fundraising.

Sonja at Walk

My fundraising has basically been through self donation so far. But having a community yard sale or bake sale might be a good way to raise additional funds. I have not done it yet, but may in the future.  

I will continue in my journey of hope for a cure for Alzheimer’s by participating in, and donating to, future Walk to End Alzheimer’s events. 

Sonja invites you to join her at the 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Yuba City on September 10. Not near Yuba City? Find your walk at

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