The members of Bill's Buddies will rally at the 2015 Columbus Walk to End Alzheimer's on Sunday, Sept. 13, to raise money to fight a disease that struck close to home two years ago.

The members of Bill's Buddies will rally at the 2015 Columbus Walk to End Alzheimer's on Sunday, Sept. 13, to raise money to fight a disease that struck close to home two years ago.

Julie Dierker, a 2014 Upper Arlington High School graduate, and her siblings, Molly and Will, who still attend UAHS, established Bill's Buddies as a Father's Day gift to their dad, Bill, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's in June 2013 at age 51. The team -- now with 95 members -- has raised $30,000 of its $50,000 goal.

Julie Dierker said the disease that is slowly stealing her father's mind is "heartbreaking."

"You are watching your loved one disappear in front of your eyes," she said. "It changes the day-to-day way you live. You feel sad, worried and sometimes impatient. You feel helpless."

Friends and family have rallied around Bill and his wife, Anne.

"Since my dad's diagnosis, friends have taken him to lunch weekly and every time he returns home he has a smile on his face," Dierker said. "Also, since his diagnosis, he has never met a stranger -- within 15 seconds of meeting my dad, you know that something is off, but complete strangers quickly become friends. They embrace my dad and always respond compassionately."

She said the Upper Arlington community is also supportive.

"My dad asks complete strangers to pray for him at Mass at St. Agatha and the folks at Bag O' Nails deliver his tomato soup with enough crackers to feed 12 because they know that is what he likes," she said. "The waitresses at Chef-O-Nette welcome him by name and listen patiently to his stories."

After a noon registration, the Columbus Walk to End Alzheimer's will start at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13, at Huntington Park, 300 Huntington Park Lane in Columbus.

The Bill's Buddies team is among the top five fundraising teams on the Alzheimer's Association page at act.alz.org, with about $30,000 raised so far.

To donate or get more walk details, go to act.alz.org and put in the Bill's Buddies team name.

Dierker said team numbers swelled as more friends learned of her dad's diagnosis, with members of her high school swim team being especially involved. She is currently on the Kenyon College swim team.

"My dad was president of the Upper Arlington Swim Club and the high school booster group. My parents have always been very involved," she said.

"The majority of Bill's Buddies are friends we have made through swimming and water polo. The rest of the team are dear friends that have heard more stories about our swimming efforts than you can imagine. Many of my Kenyon teammates are also joining us on Sunday."

She said the love and support the family has received from friends and the community has been overwhelming.

"My dad knows he is loved and so do we," she said. "So many times we are told everything happens for a reason; we are not certain we have fully embraced this line, but we do recognize that we are so much stronger because of the love and support of our friends."

Funding for research is key to combating Alzheimer's, Dierker said.

"We hope people can join us in the fight by walking with our team," she said. "We realize our goal is high, but with support, we can make a difference. No donation is too small."

Dierker said her father is enrolled in a clinical trial at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

"The thought of this gave him great hope," Dierker said. "On a good day, he knows that it might not help him, but that someday his role in this trial might help find a cure."