With many affected in some way by Alzheimer’s disease, walkers gathered Sunday afternoon to walk at Hidden Lake Park in Merrillville to support each other and to raise money for research that will hopefully help to end the disease.
“This is an amazing turnout,” said Jodi Juel, broadcaster for Lakeshore Public Media. “It shows that Alzheimer’s doesn’t affect just one person, it affects entire families and communities.”
At the award ceremony that preceded the walk, awards went out to the teams that raised the most money. There was even a special “rookie sponsor award,” for a first-time sponsor who raised the most money. Additionally, personal stories of those affected by Alzheimer’s in some way were shared. April Wilford said: “This walk gives us the opportunity to help find an end to Alzheimer’s. We can do something to fight this disease. We can make a difference.”
Another speaker, MaryAnn said, “The road ahead is uncertain but it is not going to silence us.”
Louise Thompson said, “Our goal was 900 walkers, and $125,000 raised by walkers and sponsors alike. This is an event with 800 walks Nationwide every year. ”
Sponsors walked on teams, and individual walkers could walk for free or make a donation upon registering. Many held spinning flowers of different colors, representing the many diverse reasons for walkers to attend the walk. It created a “dynamic colorful garden,” as Juels said. “This walk wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for our sponsors. The money is needed for research, and to them we are very thankful.”
Volunteers for the Alzheimer’s Association were also important to the success of the walk. Sandy Hahn came all the way from Grand Rapids to volunteer at the walk. “I pass out postcards that walkers can fill out and we send them to the senators of their state. The postcard asks the senator to make Alzheimer’s research a priority, and to take other actions on the governmental level to help those with Alzheimer’s.”
Before the walk, walkers enjoyed free food and free entertainment. There was a DJ, which inspired many to dance before the walk. There were activities for kids like glitter face painting, or massages for adults.