Around 1,200 people gathered at Canal Park in Downtown Akron for the annual Alzheimer’s Walk, a disease that 5.8 million Americans are diagnosed with every year.
On Sept. 14, those affected by alzheimers walked in support of their loved ones taken away by this disease and raised awareness for the costly effects of this epidemic.
According to the NY Daily News, 83,000 people in the United States die every year from alzheimers, and it is currently the most expensive disease, costing the government $277 billion a year.
Over 600 different cities host an Alzheimer’s Walk in their community, organized by a local Alzheimer’s Association. At this Akron walk, a total of $172,530 was raised from individual participants, teams and businesses.
Education programs, caregiver support groups and chapter events–such as this annual walk–are just a few of the many services provided by the Greater East Ohio Alzheimer’s Association.
“So many people are affected by this disease, so the money raised for this helps the programs and services we offer at no cost. Without these fundraisers, we would not be able to help the community with all we do, and it raises awareness for this disease which is becoming a bigger issue,” Volunteer Coordinator Bernadette Duffy said.
A symbolic tradition from this event are the alzheimer’s flowers. These flowers have different colors for different meanings and promote the prevalence of this illness within families and the community.
A yellow flower represents that someone is a caregiver for someone with alzheimers, purple represents someone who has lost a family member or friend from alzheimers, orange supports the vision for a world without alzheimers and blue is for someone diagnosed with alzheimers.
A one mile and two-and-a-half-mile walk were options for participants, spanning from canal park, through downtown Akron, to the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath. Sunny weather made for a great turnout and enthusiastic crowd.
Aside from the actual walk, a scavenger hunt was put together around the park for participants, and organizations set up booths to promote how their work helps those with alzheimers.
“This event had many outlets that could help those who were affected by this disease in any way. There was a lot of fundraising, medical information and political help during this event,” volunteer and senior Abigail Baldwin said.
Volunteers for this event participated in advocacy, encouraging walkers to sign a petition supporting the Ohio Congress to fund more research for alzheimers.
According to Act.alz.org, Ohio funds $450 million into alzheimer’s research, but needs to increase funding to at least one billion “in order to translate today’s basic research findings into tomorrow’s treatments.”
No matter how far someone walked in support of this cause, at the end of the day, thousands of dollars were raised and hundreds of people came together in support of one common goal: furthering the fight to end alzheimers.