The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Richmond Chapter held its annual Richmond Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday, October 18th in Innsbrook. Over 1,600 participants took part in this year’s Walk, and in the process raised over $340,000 for Alzheimer’s care, support programs, and research.
The Richmond Walk to End Alzheimer’s was one of four Walks for the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Richmond.
The other Walks included a Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck Walk that was held on Saturday, September 20th at Bethpage Camp Resort in Urbanna; a Fredericksburg Walk that was held on Saturday, September 27th at University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg; and a Tri-Cities Walk that was held on Saturday, October 18th at Richard Bland College in Petersburg. Combined, these four Walks raised over $530,000.
Donations to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be accepted through the end of the year and can be made at www.alz.org/walk.
At each Walk, participants come together and participate in a ceremony to honor those affected by Alzheimer’s disease; the Promise Garden Commemoration. This ceremony is a commitment to fulfill their promise to remember, to honor, to care and to fight Alzheimer’s disease. The different colors of the promise flowers represent the diverse reasons why they walk – blue flowers indicating the individual has Alzheimer’s, yellow flowers indicating the individual is a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s, purple flowers indicating the individual has lost someone to Alzheimer’s, and orange flowers indicating the individual supports the cause and the vision of a world without Alzheimer’s. Each participant will also have an opportunity to write a personal message on their promise flower to further strengthen their dedication.
Susan Hudson, the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Richmond’s 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer’s Chair, has been a Walk participant for eleven years.
“I walk every year to honor my father-in-law,” Hudson explains. “He was a brilliant man with an infectious sense of humor and his Alzheimer’s diagnosis was unimaginable.”
After a five-year battle with Alzheimer’s, Hudson’s father-in-law passed away in 2008.
“It’s about time we change the course of this disease and find a cure,” Hudson said. “It’s too late to do nothing because we are losing too many people to this disease.”
In Virginia, 130,000 individuals are currently living with Alzheimer’s, including 26,000 in the Greater Richmond Chapter’s service area. By 2025, estimates indicate that 190,000 Virginians will have Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease is a growing epidemic and is the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. From 2000 to 2010, deaths from Alzheimer’s increased by 68% while deaths from heart disease decreased by 16%, deaths from breast cancer
decreased by 2%, and deaths from prostate cancer decreased by 8%. As baby boomers age, the number of individuals living with the disease will rapidly escalate, increasing well beyond today’s more than 5 million Americans to as many as 16 million by 2050.
“When you realize just how many people are currently affected, and how many more will be affected by Alzheimer’s over the coming years, we should all feel compelled to get involved,” Hudson added. “The Walk is an experience that touches your heart in so many ways.”
In 2013, The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Richmond Chapter provided services to more than 12,000 individuals living with Alzheimer’s or dementia as well as their caregivers, both personal and professional. The services provided included educational programs, support groups, Helpline calls, respite scholarships, and more.