Walk to End Alzheimer’s raises awareness and funds one step at a time
The annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s Wasatch Back-Park City will start with a ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept 8, at the Basin Recreation Center, 1388 Center Drive. Preregistration can be done by visiting act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk2018/UT-Utah?pg=entry&fr_id=11574. Day of registration starts at 9 a.m. For information, visit www.http://act.alz.org.
The annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s Wasatch Back-Park City is the fastest growing Alzheimer’s disease awareness and fundraising event in Utah, said Laura Wall, development director for the Utah Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Three years ago, the goal was to raise $25,000, and it made $36,000, and last year, the goal was $75,000 and it made $86,000, according to Wall.
“I’m in charge of all eight walks that take place around the state, and it’s been so rewarding to watch this particular community come together and support the heck out of this event,” said Wall, whose mother has the disease.
“This year our goal is $96,000, and the walk has already raised 60 percent of that goal,” said Debbie Morton, co-chair of the Wasatch Back-Park City event.
“Most of the money will come in the day of the walk,” she said.
This year’s day will be Saturday, Sept. 8. Day-of registration will start at 9 a.m. at Basin Recreation, 1388 Center Drive at Kimball Junction. The emcee this year is KSL TV news anchor Deanie Wimmer. Advanced registration can be done by visiting http://www.alz.org/walk. Registration can also be done by calling Wall at 801-641-7148.
The two-mile walk will start at 10 a.m., said Morton.
“We’ll walk the trail from the Swaner EcoCenter to the (Walling Barn) on Highway 224, and back,” she said. “You can walk as an individual or you can get a group together for a team or you can join any existing team.”
The walk not only raises money for Alzheimer’s research, but also raises awareness of the disease, Wall said.
“Last year, when we were walking on the trail, we had cars veer into the parking lot and ask us what we were doing,” she said. “As we talked to these people, we found that everyone who talked with us had some relationship to the disease.”
Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia, is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, according to Wall.
“It’s the fourth leading cause of death in Utah, and we know one-third of Utah seniors will end up with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” she said.
Ray Freer, who co-chairs the event with Morton, watched his wife Mary, with whom he’s been married for 52 years, slip into Alzheimer’s symptoms over an eight-year period.
“I saw her go through mild cognitive impairment, where you can live an almost normal life, to mild dementia to moderate dementia to advance dementia,” he said. “I see her three times a week at the Life Care Center in Salt Lake, where she’s staying, and although she recognizes me and our dog, she can’t dress herself or bathe. She requires assistance when eating and she cannot communicate.”
Morton’s father had Alzheimer’s for 12 years, and died five years ago.
“His brother and three of his first cousins had it, and we just found out another cousin has it,” she said. “I also have a 28 percent chance of getting it.”
The walk also raises awareness for the caretakers of Alzheimer’s patients, Wall said.
“More than 15 million people provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” she said.
Those caregivers clocked in an estimated 18.2 billion hours of care that valued more than $230 billion, and of those caregivers, 35 percent reported that their health has gotten worse due to the weight of caregiving responsibilities, she said.
“Even if the walk isn’t their deal, we have resources listed on our website,” she said. “We also have a helpline that is open 24 hours, seven days a week and is in 246 languages. There is no reason for anyone to go through this alone.”
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