By BRIAN SMITH
A kickoff event for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s was held Thursday night, as a way to get the event into people’s minds locally, according to Theresa Hocker, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association North Central Texas Chapter.
The annual walk itself isn’t scheduled until Saturday, Sept. 27, at Weatherford College. Hocker said a couple of other events are planned later this summer to get people excited and ready for the walk, but no dates had been set yet.
Last year’s Weatherford walk, one of eight scheduled this fall in the 40-county North Central Texas area, raised more than $50,000 for the organization, Hocker said. This year’s goal is $55,000. Hocker said the staff at Weatherford College always makes the event run flawlessly.
“They do a great job every year,” Hocker said. “Everyone from the police department to the baseball team which has members set up and then another group cleans up after the event is finished. It really can’t go better.”
“Having this event also helps us reach out and get new people,” Hocker said. “We already have teams and sponsors for the event and we hope to sign up more tonight.”
Hocker said a number of sponsors, including area hospices, caregiver groups and care centers helped put the event on. For the first time, a karaoke contest was held and prizes awarded. Raffle tickets were sold, allowing buyers to pick the prize they wanted to compete for, including gift cards from Fuzzy’s Taco shop, the event host.
“A lot of these sponsors had their marketing folks working on this, so it’s really wonderful that they’re here,” Hocker said. “They made the event go much smoother.”
Funds raised through the walk help the association pay for research and sponsor newer programs like REACH, or Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health. Hocker said the six-month program started in Tarrant County but was expanded to caregivers in Parker County recently. It provides support and services for anyone caring for a loved one with dementia.
The caregivers work one-on-one with specialists at no charge to learn strategies to cope with the challenges, focusing on burden, self-care, depression, social support, safety and problem behaviors. Services are provided that nourish self-esteem, reduce stress, and help improve the caregiver’s quality of life.
For more information on the association or to sign up for the walk in Weatherford, call 1-800-272-3900 or visit www.act.alz.org/weatherford.