Walkers want to stomp out Alzheimer’s Disease | ParkRecord.com

Walkers want to stomp out Alzheimer’s Disease

Funds raised on Aug. 13 will go to research and resources

Walk to End Alzheimer’s Summit/Wasatch County

When: 9 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 13

Where: Basin Recreation Fieldhouse, 1388 Center Drive at Kimball Junction

Web: alz.org/events

Registration for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Summit/Wasatch County is open. The event, scheduled for Aug. 13, will feature an easy two-mile stroll that will start at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse.
Photo by Jean Canestrini

Alzheimer’s Disease reportedly kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The nonprofit that envisions “a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia” also reported that there are more than 6 million Americans who have been diagnosed, with many more who are undiagnosed, said Andrea Spaulding, who along with her husband Steve Spaulding, co-chair the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Summit/Wasatch County.

“In 2019, we had 980 Alzheimer-related deaths in Utah, and that was up 186% from the numbers in 2000,” she said. “An estimated number of people aged 65 and older who are suffering from Alzheimer’s in Utah is about 40,000.” 

These numbers are part of the reason why the Spaulings co-chair the walk, which takes place on Aug. 13. They both also have personal reasons. 

This walk is always the first one of many that take place around the country…” Steve Spaulding, Walk to End Alzheimer’s Summit/Wasatch County co-chair

“Both of my grandmothers had dementia late in their lives,” Steve said. “I work for Edward Jones, which is a national sponsor, and it’s important to me to support friends and clients who have suffered and are suffering through this with their loved ones. I want them not to have to do that again.”

Andrea had an uncle who recently passed away due to Alzheimer’s  complications.

“I saw how it affected him, my aunt and the whole family,” she said. “It was gut wrenching. So I want to do anything I can to help.”
Registration is now open for the Summit/Wasatch County walk at bit.ly/3OD5H37. Walk-ups will also be allowed to register the day of the event. People can start a team, join an existing team or just donate.

The Aug. 13 date is earlier than past Alzheimer’s Walks in the Park City area, Andrea said.

“We tried to find a date where it wouldn’t conflict with other things going on in town,” she said. “We encourage people to sign up. They can donate. They can create a team or they can join an existing team, however they want to support.”

Steve said Park City’s demographic was another reason for pushing up the date.

“This walk is always the first one of many that take place around the country, and that’s because we have so many summer residents who leave during the shoulder season in September and October,” he said. “So we want to do this while there are still a lot of people here.”

The walk is an easy, kid- and dog-friendly two-mile route along S.R. 224 that starts and ends at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse, 1388 Center Drive at Kimball Junction, Steve said.

“It takes place on the trail around the Swaner Preserve that goes up to the Wallin Barn,” he said. Festivities, which will feature the Park City High School Band and cheerleaders, will start at 9 a.m., and the walk will begin at 10 a.m., Andrea said.

“Before the walk, we will hold a flower-garden ceremony and pass out different colored flowers,” she said. “The colors symbolize different things.”

Orange flowers represent people who support the effort to stop Alzheimer’s, and purple flowers are for people who have lost someone they knew or loved to the disease, Andrea said.

“The blue flower signifies people who are currently living with Alzheimer’s, and yellow is held by someone who is a caregiver of someone who has Alzmeimer’s,” she said.

Caretakers are the unsung heroes in this health crisis, Andrea said. 

“Right now there are more than 11 million Americans who are providing unpaid care for people who have Alzheimer’s,” she said. “Many times people have to quit their jobs, which is a double doozy. They are giving up aid care and not getting any normal income from jobs as well.”

Caregivers provide more than 16 billion hours of care, which adds up to $272 billion of unpaid work, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Sometimes due to stress, caretakers will pass before their patients, Andrea said.

“Caretaking can go on for a long time, because there is no timeline that says how soon someone will die after being diagnosed with the disease.”

In addition to raising awareness and funds for research, the Alzheimer Association also uses funds for information and resources for caretakers.

“It’s easy for every family who goes through this to think and feel that they are going through it alone, because it’s so isolating,” Steve said. “It’s also financially and psychologically devastating. So, the Association provides information and sends you to the right people who help you figure out what’s going on and ease the burden.”

In addition to the orange, purple, blue and yellow flowers, the walk will feature a white flower, Andrea said.

“The white one symbolizes anyone who has been cured of Alzheimer’s,” she said. “And that’s one we’re still working on.”

Last year more than 330 people participated in the Summit/Wasatch County walk and raised almost $150,000, Steve said.

“Pre-COVID we made more than that, and we are trying to get the momentum going again after not doing it all in 2020 and doing it virtually in 2021,” he said. “Our hope is to have more people come out this year.”

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