The Alzheimer’s Association is inviting Weatherford and surrounding area residents to join them in the fight to end Alzheimer’s by participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Oct. 10.
This year, the walk is reaching even more participants because walk is everywhere. Due to COVID-19, the association is unable to hold its usual large crowd gatherings. Instead, participants are being asked to hit the pavement in small groups or as individuals, in neighborhoods, on sidewalks or on walking trails or tracks in towns and cities throughout the Weatherford area. Weatherford walk committee chair and Weatherford resident Dorthy Anderson says the walk is personal for her, as it is for so many people.
“I became aware of the Alzheimer’s Association when my mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia over 10 years ago,” Anderson said. “I knew nothing about dementia and it was scary to see my normally very independent mother become unable to care for herself and eventually grow to be quite afraid and confused.”
Anderson said the worst of it was being scared all the time, both for herself and her mother.
“I made a promise to my mother and myself that I would work until my last breath to help find a cure for this fatal disease,” she said.
More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease – the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. In Texas alone, there are more than 400,000 people living with the disease. Additionally, more than 16 million family members and friends provide care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
“The pandemic is changing how we walk, but it doesn’t change the need to walk. This year, more than ever, we need to come together to support all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementia,” said Wendy Vizek, vice president, constituent events with the Alzheimer’s Association. “With the dollars raised, the Alzheimer’s Association can continue to provide care and support to families during these difficult times while also advancing critical research toward methods of treatment and prevention.”
Organizers are still encouraging people to walk, either as individuals, families or small teams.
“And of course, to keep at least six feet between themselves and wear masks for safe social distancing,” said Jillian Phillips, walk coordinator for the Weatherford walk. “Many of our constituents are at higher risk when it comes to COVID-19 and we know that our volunteers and participants appreciate our commitment to keeping all those involved healthy and safe.”
Time-honored components of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s are being replicated. On walk day, an opening ceremony will feature local speakers and a presentation of Promise Garden Flowers to honor the personal reasons participants join together to fight Alzheimer’s and all other dementia, all delivered to participants’ smartphones, tablets and computers. The iconic Promise Garden will be a “view only” format on walk day at a designated location to honor all those impacted by Alzheimer’s.
To enhance the participant experience leading up to the event and on walk day, new features are being added to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s mobile app to create an opportunity for the community and walk teams to connect. Participants can use the app and new “Walk Mainstage” to track their steps and distance, follow a virtual Walk path, manage their Facebook fundraisers and access information and resources from the Association and walk sponsors.
“Alzheimer’s is not taking a hiatus during COVID-19 and neither are we,” Redrow said. “We must continue to Walk to End Alzheimer’s.”
Support and donations go a long way in helping to deliver local educational workshops, training for the caregivers, support groups and 24/7 helpline support, Anderson added.
“My Walk team is Jewell’s Angels, and we challenge you to register either as a team or as a walker,” Anderson said. “Together we can find a cure.”
The Weatherford Walk to End Alzheimer’s encompasses Parker, Hood and Palo Pinto counties. However, this year, it encompasses everywhere and wherever you may be. To register and receive the latest updates on this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, visit alz.org/walk.