By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s took place at Confederate Park on Saturday, September 16. There were over 26 teams pre-registered, and approximately 300 walkers were expected. Over $20,000 was raised for this event, and the funds will go towards raising awareness and Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Members of the Belton High School ROTC carried the flags and posted the colors. Edward Jones, the national presenting sponsor, raised over $3,000 and had over 30 walkers present. There was a team photo area, and DJ Joshua Y Masters in the Mix provided the music. BCYC volunteers manned a registration table.
Walkers picked out Promise Garden flowers to carry, and the flowers were color-coded to mean different things. Walkers who have lost someone to Alzheimer’s carried a purple flower, and caregivers held a yellow flower. Those yielding an orange flower walked in support of the vision of a world without Alzheimer’s. A blue flower represented people who suffer from the disease. Throughout the opening ceremony before the walk, participants on stage and in the audience raised their flowers in solidarity and support of one another.
“This is our first walk of the season. We have two more in October – one is Austin and one in Georgetown. We are trying to raise awareness about the disease. Alzheimer’s is a brutal illness – it does not discriminate – basically, if you have a brain, then you are at risk for developing it. There are 360,000 Texans who live with the disease and 1.5 million caregivers statewide,” explained Delia Jervier, Chapter Executive Director.
Brooke Bednarz, a KXXV reporter, served as Master of Ceremonies for the Walk. Bednarz fostered community spirit by sharing stories and facilitating the event. Bednarz’s connection to Alzheimer’s forged a bond with attendees.
“My great-grandmother died of Alzheimer’s seven years ago. I have experience with the disease and I know first-hand what it does to families. I understand what these people are going through,” said Bednarz.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is just over three miles long, with a one-mile shorter walk for those who prefer less distance. Kohl’s Cares had a six-volunteer team, captained by Amy Robinson, working at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The volunteers were stationed throughout the course – cheering people along and handing out water.
“Our registration has doubled from last year, and we are $5,000 over our fundraising goal. We are continually trying to expand our reach to in the communities we serve. Our goal, for the Walk, and all other fundraising initiatives, is to raise the level of awareness of the disease in each community. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate those affected with the disease, their caregivers, and advocates for Alzheimer’s,” said Christy Hill, Development Specialist with the Alzheimer’s Association, Capital of Texas.
Home Instead Senior Care and Visiting Angels were national sponsors of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
“My great-grandmother had Alzheimer’s and my grandfather was her primary caregiver. The disease took a real toll on him and his family. They didn’t have the options and support back then, that is available now,” explained Brandy Firebaugh, local franchise owner of Home Instead Senior Care. “As a Home Instead team, we are here to get the word out about the programs that are available to support those who suffer from the disease and their families. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is a cause we are all deeply committed to.”