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Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Photos and story by Lucy Wheeler

In September, over 600 communities, nationwide, gathered to ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  San Diego’s Imperial Chapter held its North County event at Kit Carson Park in Escondido and here’s why 750 people walked the walk there.

Alzheimer’s disease has reached epidemic proportions, affecting one in every three adults as they age.  It is the only one of the top ten causes of death in America which cannot be prevented, cured or slowed down in its process.

Alzheimer’s has a severe impact, not only on the recipient of the disease, but those around them as well.

Seeking the comradery and support of fellow caregivers, Sandy Wagner of San Marcos picks the color which identifies her involvement with the disease.

“We all feel so helpless in fighting this devastating disease, especially when you are far away.”  By picking a Yellow flower, she communicates to her fellow walking friends that she assists in caregiving, though her involvement is one of long distant support of her sister in Wyoming.  She also lost a cousin stricken with the disease.

Purple signifies a loved one has passed away from the disease.  Those picking a blue flower indicate they themselves are victims, while orange designates an involvement, such as a neighbor or co-worker, who desire to assist, contribute and help make a difference.

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As part of the warm-up for the walk, walkers pick up purple shirts, watch the tallest walker walk and gather information about resources available for support and caretaking.

Among the National Supporters were Presenting Sponsor, Edward Jones,  Diamond Supporter Brookdale,  and Platinum Teams, Senior Star, Sigma Kappa, and LCS.    Local supporters included ReminX by Dthera, Merrill Gardens and Aya Healthcare.

“The 750 people walked this year to raise money to help educate and empower the more than 60 thousand people with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia in San Diego and Imperial Counties, their caregivers and those concerned about the disease.”   Said Kristen Cusato, Associate Director of
Communications at the San Diego/Imperial Chapter of Alzheimer’s Association.  They walked to raise awareness of this epidemic, to raise money for research, to unite in communities for comradery and support of each other, to disseminate new information about the disease, and to inform the public and themselves of the resources available through the Alzheimer’s Association.

As the walk began, the walkers included those in wheelchairs, strollers, dogs on leashes, children of all ages and even cheering entertainment and water stops along the way.

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The Alzheimer’s Association also offers free education classes, care consultations for families, send advocates to Sacramento and DC to effect change, and fund $11 Million in dementia research at institutions including UCSD, Salk and Sanford Burnham Presbys.

People can still  contribute to the walk’s goal of raising $100 thousand dollars through the end of the year.

The Alzheimer’s helpline (1-800-272-3900) is staffed by trained professionals 24-7, and offers answers to any questions you have about the disease, about caregiving, or if you’d just like to vent.