Registration for the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s is now open
Fundraiser scheduled for Aug. 28
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and there are more than 5 million Americans who have been diagnosed with the illness right now, according to a 2020 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To raise money and awareness for the cause, the Alzheimer’s Association hosts about 600 annual Walks to End Alzheimer’s across the nation.
One of those takes place in Park City and is hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association Wasatch Back District, said chairman Steve Pettise.
“Part of the great thing about the walk is, besides the fact that we raise money, is raising awareness,” Pettise said. “When you have 600 people wearing purple and walking for a cause, you catch the attention of others.”
This year’s walk is scheduled for Aug. 28, and registration is now open at bit.ly/2PogF42, and although the 2-mile, non strenuous route hasn’t been finalized, people can still register as individuals, create a team or join an existing team, said Andrea Spaulding, who along with her husband Steve Spaulding co-chairs this year’s Wasatch Back walk.
“It’s not too early for people to create a team and start fundraising, or even just thinking about it,” Andrea Spaulding said. “This Wasatch Back walk is the biggest fundraiser in the state for the association. We’re really proud of that. We want to keep it up.”
Although last year’s walk was held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions, the organization is planning to host this walk in person.
“We will follow any guidelines that are in place,” said Andrea Spaulding, who had an uncle who passed away due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. “As long as we’re allowed to do it, and as long as walkers feel comfortable doing it, we want to bring people together again.”
Last year’s walk featured more than 600 virtual walkers and raised $150,000, a $30,000 boost from its original goal, Pettise said.
Some money raised by the walk this year will go to research, Steve Spaulding said.
“The ongoing research is to find solutions and treatments to slow (Alzheimer’s) down and eventually stop it,” he said. “Some of the money will help with programs designed for caretakers of those who have been diagnosed.”
Caretakers, who are usually family members who have to quit their jobs to care for their loved ones, are the unsung heroes and, at times, the first casualties in the fight with Alzheimer’s, he said.
“The sad thing is there are a lot of caretakers who die due to the stress of caretaking, and some die before those who they are taking care of,” he said. “(Caretakers) usually end up getting isolated, and feel like they’re the first and only people who are dealing with the situation. That can be really depressing, and can sap every ounce of energy from you.”
In 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 years or older had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and this number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060, according to the CDC report.
In addition, the costs of treating Alzheimer’s disease were projected to land between $159 billion and $215 billion in 2010, and these costs are projected to jump to between $379 billion and more than $500 billion annually in 2040, the report stated.
Steve Spaulding, as a financial advisor for Edward Jones, which is the Walk to End Alzheimer’s national sponsor, knows the financial damage many of his clients have sustained because of the disease.
“It hits very close to home, because I know the toll, financially and personally,” he said.
As with the past walks, participants will have the option of participating in the promise garden, and carry colored flowers, Andrea Spaulding said.
“People holding blue flowers have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and the yellow flowers signify caregivers,” she said. “Purple flowers means you lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s, and orange flowers are carried by people who are just supporting the cause.”
Those with a white flower are Alzheimer’s survivors, according to Andrea, who has participated in the Wasatch Back walk since it started in 2016.
“Seeing all of these people with these flowers just gets you in the heart,” she said.
To register for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Wasatch Back, visit bit.ly/2PogF42.
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