A Walk to End Alzheimer’s event will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Highway Gardens on the Missouri State Fairgrounds to raise awareness of the disease and funds to support continued research.
The public, kids and even pets are welcome to walk the approximately two-mile route. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. and there is no cost to participate, but donations are welcome. The walk will take place rain or shine.
“It is a great community event. It is an awareness event but it is also our largest fundraiser of the year. All the funds go straight to the care and support for those affected with the disease as well as critical research efforts,” said event organizer Megan Schwedtmann.
Every registered participant will receive a T-shirt after achieving the fundraising minimum of $100. Unless otherwise communicated, T-shirts will be available for pick up on walk day. On walk day, participants will receive a wristband.
“We will have some sponsor booths for people to visit and get some more information about our area businesses and care centers, so people will have an opportunity to talk with them first hand if they need those services,” Schwedtmann said.
Registered walkers with a wristband will receive a Promise Garden flower that represents their connection to the disease. Blue represents someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, purple is for someone who has lost a loved one to the disease, yellow represents someone who is currently supporting or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and orange is for everyone who supports the cause and vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.
A flower ceremony prior to the event will give those suffering from the disease the chance to voice their struggle with the disease and let others know they are not alone.
“We call people out by the flowers and there are four colors, just so they can kind of stand up and say where they are in the disease,” Schwedtmann said. “The ceremony is to show people they are not alone and that there is a whole community of people affected by this disease.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information.
Just like the rest of our bodies, our brains change as we age. Most people eventually notice some slowed thinking and occasional problems with remembering certain things. However, serious memory loss, confusion and other major changes in the way our minds work may be a sign that brain cells are failing.
“One in three Americans is affected by Alzheimer’s, whether it is a family member or a friend or themselves. It is a neurological degenerative disease. There is no cure for it. Once somebody had been diagnosed, it is going to be a life changing event,” Schwedtmann said.
For more information on Saturday’s event, contact Schwedtmann at 573-443-8665 or MOWalks@alz.org. For more information on The Alzheimer’s Association, its goals and more specific information on the disease, visit alz.org.