Indiana Daily Student

Walk to End Alzheimer’s returning Sunday

<p>Participants carry a flower representing their journey with the disease during the Walk to End Alzheimer&#x27;s on Sept. 15, 2019. The funds raised from the walk go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association.</p>

Participants carry a flower representing their journey with the disease during the Walk to End Alzheimer's on Sept. 15, 2019. The funds raised from the walk go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association.

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is taking place Sept. 12 at Switchyard Park in Bloomington. Participants can either walk at the event or walk from home in their neighborhood.

The funds raised from the walk go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association for research, caretaking and support group purposes.

Natalie Sutton, executive director for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter, said this is the largest fundraiser of the year for the association. It takes place in 638 locations across the U.S., 13 of those within the Greater Indiana Chapter, she said.

“The Bloomington walk is one of our largest in the chapter — we have great community support,” Sutton said. “The funds raised from the walk advance our mission.” 

The mission of the Alzheimer’s Association is to advance research and eventually develop a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, Sutton said. During the walk, participants carry a flower, with the color representing their journey with the disease.

“The color of the flower represents someone’s connection to the Alzheimer’s Association mission,” Sutton said. “For example, if you lost someone to Alzheimer’s or dementia you would carry a purple flower. Unfortunately, that’s our most common.” 

There will be hand sanitizing stations throughout the area and masks provided. Additionally, the sponsor booths and separate walking groups will be more physically distant. In past years, all the groups walk at the same time, but this year, groups are welcome to walk as soon as each person in the group is ready to prevent large numbers of people waiting at the start, Sutton said. 

If participants choose to walk from home, they have access to engaging online tools through the Alzheimer’s Association mobile app.

“I think for many of our constituents, having the walk in person is really important just because caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be a very lonely journey,” Sutton said. “To be able to come together with the community is very inspiring and offers a lot of hope for our constituents.” 

Liana Apostolova, IU Distinguished Professor in Neurology at the Department of Neurology Indiana School of Medicine, said Alzheimer’s is the most common neurodegenerative disorder worldwide. She said the costs from the disease are very expensive and are hard on families.

“Like any other disease, we need to defeat it,” Apostolova said. “Alzheimer’s is one of the most expensive diseases out there. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s. It’s a long, protracted disease that costs enormous amounts of money to the taxpayers and the individual families.”

Apostolova said the funds raised from the walk are necessary in the development of a cure.

“All the money being raised is to better understand the disease and develop direct targets that we can efficiently target to reach a cure for Alzheimer’s,” Apostolova said.

The Alzheimer’s Student Alliance at IU’s main goal is to spread awareness and raise funds to help fight the disease, President Will Unverzagt said.

Unverzagt said this year the Alzheimer’s Student Alliance will be at the walk helping set up and take things down at the end but also will have members participating in the walk itself. 

“It’s spreading awareness,” Unverzagt said. “The walk — with how many volunteers and how many different walks they have — it spreads a lot of awareness about the disease to make it on everybody’s radar. To draw more funds in the future and also just have people thinking about Alzheimer’s.”

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