A record number of walkers raised a record $538,000 on Sunday in the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease.
That put supporters close to their goal of raising $585,000 by the end of November. This is the first year the Heart of America chapter of the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Association has raised more than $500,000.
The 2015 Walk to End Alzheimer’s drew between 5,000 and 6,000 participants — and several dogs — to Corporate Woods on a chilly but sunny morning. They including a 98-year-old woman, Pearl Jordan, and several other people who have the disease or dementia. They carried symbolic blue “promise flowers” that spun like pinwheels in the breeze.
People caring for someone with Alzheimer’s carried yellow flowers. People who have lost someone they loved to the disease carried purple flowers, and people who just want to battle the disease carried orange ones.
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The parking lot at the starting line for the one-mile and three-mile walks was awash in color.
“The names and stories on these promise flowers show that we’ve all followed our own paths to get here this morning, but today we will all walk together on the same path,” said volunteer Jared Holroyd. “The end of Alzheimer’s begins right here with this promise garden. This is where it all starts.”
It is estimated there are more than 5 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s, including more than 50,000 in the 66-county Kansas City service area. There are more than 200,000 family members and caregivers in this area, according to the Heart of America chapter.
Money raised from the walk goes to research into a cure for the disease as well as to support people with the disease and their caregivers.
“This is how we support each other, by being here today,” said Debra Brook, executive director of the local chapter. “This is how we channel the passion, the commitment, the energy and the hope. Together, step by step, this is how we guarantee a future without Alzheimer’s.
“You are all here making a difference,” Brook continued. “You are all here taking a stand that says we will do everything we can to support all those who are currently struggling with this disease and we will do everything we can to beat this disease. This takes unrelenting commitment, and it takes financial resources.”