Alzheimer’s affects more than five million Americans, and impacts more than 30 million friends and family members in the U.S. according to the “Basics of Alzheimer’s Disease.” This form of dementia causes changes in the brain at a microscopic level. Like a real factory, backups and breakdowns in one system cause problems in other areas. These shocking truths are what encourage thousands to raise awareness and help those suffering from the disease.
The Alzheimer’s Association is a global organization working to advance care, support and research across the world. The association has awarded more than $350 million to research investigations since 1982. In addition, the association hosts thousands of walks across the U.S. every year.
Saturday morning, Wittenberg was fortunate enough to host a Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Alumni Way. A sea of enthusiastic people of all ages gathered to support the Alzheimer’s Association and to raise awareness. With over 900 participants, the walk was able to raise more than $105,000. Participants were given different colored flowers according to their connection to the disease. Purple for those who had experienced a death of a loved one, orange for supporters, yellow for caregivers and blue for those who are currently living with Alzheimer’s. As each group of people proudly raised their flowers, the result was moving and encouraging for the future of the program.
During the opening ceremony, the various speeches moved many people to tears. Supporter and volunteer Carolyn Henry spoke about her struggles with the disease. When Henry’s mother was diagnosed, Henry was desperate to learn more about her mother’s condition.
“I was so thankful to be surrounded by people who were willing to help me and teach me,” Henry said.
The Alzheimer’s Association was able to inform Henry and assist her in doing everything she could to help her mother. With her mother’s death in Oct. 2015, Henry walked today for the first time bearing a purple flower.
Henry ended her moving speech with her own words of wisdom: “We all have the ability to show each other kindness in the midst of darkness.”
Among the crowd of purple, another participant named Heather Hecht Tayloe also has a personal connection to Alzheimer’s. When Tayloe’s mother was diagnosed, Tayloe was her primary caregiver. She described her mother as a beautiful and intelligent woman.
“She used to do the crossword puzzles in the Times with pen every day,” she said.
Never leaving her side, Tayloe watched as her mother fell victim to this relentless disease. Today, her mother’s death encourages her to do whatever she can to help others who are experiencing what her mother did.
“I do it to raise awareness and to help find a cure. Also, it’s just a fun thing to do!” she said. She alone raised more than $9,000 for Saturday’s walk.
If you are interested in donating, you can do so at act.alz.org.