GREENVILLE — The reasons are many, varied, and personal for participants of the annual Darke County Walk to End Alzheimer’s. For some, it is in memory of a loved one who passed or as a primary caretaker to someone currently suffering from the disease. But they all walk for a common cause — to find a cure and to end Alzheimer’s disease.
The numbers are shocking. More than five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and it is the sixth-leading cause of death. There are more than 16 million caregivers of people living with the disease and other dementias in the United States. In 2019, Alzheimer’s disease will cost the United States $290 billion and is projected to rise to more than $1.1 trillion by 2050*.
Beth Harper, Special Events Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Association Miami Valley Chapter along with Kristi Strawser, chair, and Megan Stull, co-chair, both from State of the Heart Care, were at the YMCA Darke County on Tuesday. They were passing out t-shirts, providing information, and accepting donations for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s that will be held on Saturday, Sept. 7.
According to Harper, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the largest fundraising event for the Association, with one hundred percent of the money to support education, care, and research.
“We do not charge the people that we help,” said Harper of the approximately 30,000 individuals with the disease in the nine counties the Miami Valley Chapter serves.
“It is always a moving number,” continued Harper, as it does not include those with dementia which the Association also supports. Or the fact that for every person with Alzheimer’s disease there are approximately three to four caretakers. “A lot of the services we do are not just for the people who have the disease but for the caretakers. They are the ones that need a lot of support.”
The Darke County Walk to End Alzheimer’s has a goal to raise $31,500 and walk teams have sponsored several events to help reach it. Last month, State of the Heart Care and Spirit Medical Transport held the Race to Remember. The event welcomed a dozen teams of three to four individuals that participated in a local version of The Amazing Race. Brookdale prepared and sold luncheons while the Village Greene held a painting class, again all to raise money for the cause.
Cheryl Hughes, honorary chair, participated in The Longest Day at the Brethren Retirement Community, an event held to raise money, in June. She also held a pet contest at BRC to help raise funds. For her, Alzheimer’s disease hits close to home. She had cared for her husband, who suffered from the disease for seven years before his passing last November.
There is still time to donate towards the cause and even to walk on Saturday. Rain or shine, registration begins at 9 a.m., with the Promise Garden Ceremony to start at 10 a.m.
The Promise Garden Ceremony is a powerful moment, explained Harper. One chosen individual will raise a color-specific flower and ask those in attendance to raise their color-specific flower. A blue flower represents someone with Alzheimer’s/dementia, a yellow flower for caregivers, purple for those who lost someone to Alzheimer’s/dementia, and an orange flower for those supporting the cause.
“At the end, we have the one flower of hope, the white flower,” continued Harper with only one person raising the white flower because, “There are no survivors yet, Alzheimer’s is always fatal.”
The Darke County Walk to End Alzheimer’s will begin at 10:15 a.m., on Saturday, Sept. 7, at Annie Oakley Park in downtown Greenville.
More information is available on the Association Facebook page: alzdayton or the website: www.alz.org.
*About Alzheimer’s disease courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association
Reach reporter Bethany J. Royer-DeLong at 937/548-3330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more news, features, and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.