Melissa Goodson, Development Director of Alzheimer’s Association, tells us how the Walk to End Alzheimer’s leads ever closer to a cure.
SPONSOR ORGANIZATION: Alzheimer’s Association
EVENT: Walk to End Alzheimer’s
DATE: September 29, 2019
TIME: 12:00 pm
LOCATION: Kalamazoo College Athletic Complex, 1600 West Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI
Stand Together, Walk as One
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the nation’s largest event to raise awareness of and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. The walk in Kalamazoo will be one of over 600 walks held across the country. We like to call it our biggest support group of the year, where community members come together with others who have been through a similar journey. For one day, people within our community become family members to each other. We keep things positive—our goal is to inspire hope and solidarity in the face of hardship.
What to Expect
People generally arrive mid-morning to enjoy some of the vendors and spokespersons who will be there during the registration process. After you get your T-shirt at registration, you can meet up with the rest of your team for the opening ceremony. We share personal stories, Alzheimer’s statistics, and research developments, then blow the horn and start the walk. People start conversations, and sometimes lifelong friendships, with those walking alongside them. We’ve even seen marriages come out of this event! Knowing that everybody in that space understands the importance of eradicating this disease gives a true sense of purpose and unity.
For me, the Promise Garden Ceremony is the most moving moment of the day. Each participant receives a colored flower at registration that they can decorate or put a loved one’s name on. The colors of the flowers represent a different connection to the disease. At the ceremony, people onstage share their stories but with a sense of hope as opposed to sadness. The audience raises their flowers at the end and it becomes a beautiful sea of color.
Ending Alzheimer’s as a Team
There is no fee for registering, but we do encourage people to build a team, become a team captain, and raise dollars that support the work we do. In 2018, more than 65,000 teams participated (across the U.S.) and raised more than $90 million in total. With your help, the Alzheimer’s Association is able to educate millions of caregivers, advocate for the needs and rights of people facing Alzheimer’s, and advance research that brings us closer to a cure.
The Brightening Future
The trajectory of that research has been genuinely inspiring in recent years. I have a six-year-old and a four-year-old; the first survivor is most likely in their generation. It gives me shivers just to think that one day, they may never have to worry about Alzheimer’s disease. Until then, if you need the support of a social worker, caregiver, or somebody who understands what you’re going through, the Alzheimer’s Association website is a great resource, and our number is 800.272.3900. It’s answered by a trained professional every minute of every day.
To register, start a team, or volunteer, visit: www.alz.org/walk