Over 300 participants gathered on Keene State College’s Appian Way Saturday, September 21, to raise money, spread awareness and walk with the hope of one day living in a world unaffected by the debilitating and devastating disease known as Alzheimer’s.
The Alzheimer’s Association 2013 Western New Hampshire Walk was held for its fifth year on the KSC campus. Administrative Services Coordinator at The Alzheimer’s Association Ella Schwotzer explained that the association wanted to broaden its outreach throughout the Granite State.
“The Alzheimer’s Association wanted to have some regional walks so we decided on a walk in Western New Hampshire, Southern New Hampshire, Central New Hampshire and Portsmouth,” Schwotzer said.
“There are 22,000 people in New Hampshire that have Alzheimer’s disease so the walks are made to raise awareness and to raise funds that go towards our free services for families and Alzheimer’s research,” she said.
Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease which slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.
This disease primarily affects the elderly, mainly people over the age of 60, and has become the nation’s sixth leading cause of death. Alzheimer’s also has a significant impact on family members, with nearly 15 million providing care to a loved one, according to The Alzheimer’s Association website.
Schwotzer stressed the importance of events like this, especially to the college community.
Marie Adler, a recent widow who lost her husband to Alzheimer’s disease in July, is very active in the Pheasant Wood community. She said she believes it is a wonderful facility.
“What’s good about Pheasant Wood is they involve the patients; they just don’t put them in a wheelchair and leave them be,” Adler said.
Last year Adler crocheted over 50 Christmas trees for Alzheimer’s patients to decorate with and hang on their walls.
Prior to the walk, a Promise Garden Ceremony was held on the student center lawn. When walkers arrived to the event they were given a specific colored pinwheel flower depending on why they decided to get involved and walk to end this disease.
Participants were given a blue flower if they themselves had Alzheimer’s, yellow if they are supporting or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, purple if they had lost someone to Alzheimer’s and orange if they were there just to support the cause and a vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.
Participants were asked to write a personal message on their promise flower to further strengthen their dedication to this disease.
One by one, each color flower was raised and spun harmoniously in the cool September morning breeze.
When the walk concluded, the flowers were stuck in the ground, creating a dynamic, colorful and meaningful garden.
The Alzheimer’s Association Western New Hampshire Walk’s goal was to raise $43,226. To date, the walk has raised $24, 664, just over half of their desired goal, according to the Alzheimer’s Association website. During the Promise Garden ceremony prior to start of the walk, the New Hampshire/Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Association’s Regional Leader Susan Fitzpatrick urged participants to keep donating, explaining that fundraising for this walk will continue going on until Halloween (October 31).
Rachel Heard can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org