The West Georgia Alzheimer’s Association held their annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Hobbs Farm on Oct. 17. The Carrollton walk was established in 2001 and is one of the 600 walks held worldwide each year. The walk aims to raise awareness and to help fund the fight to end Alzheimer’s and also provides the participants opportunities to join clinical studies and support groups.
The 5K, or 3.1-mile, walk allowed participants to either walk or run the Hobbs Farm Trail, which connected with parts of the GreenBelt Trail. Over 400 people participated from cities such as from Carrollton, Douglasville, Villa Rica and Bremen. The Carrollton walk had over 40 teams, and they raised over $79,500, which went directly to research. Trish Walker, the co-chair for the West Georgia Walk, was excited to see this year’s turn out.
“It’s impressive, and we’ve come a long way,” said Walker. “We made $75,000 last year. Our goal was $60,000, and before the walk, we raised over $22,000. It’s most unusual, but we are the type of walk that makes over 50 percent of our goal on the day of the walk.”
This was Walker’s fifth year with the West Georgia chapter. Her own mother had Alzheimer’s for 20 years, making it a personal goal to end the Alzheimer’s disease.
Over 130,000 people who live in Georgia suffer from Alzheimer’s, and the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. With one in three senior cities dying with Alzheimer’s, it is important to the association that people learn about the disease.
“People need to feel comfortable talking about the disease,” she said. “They need to know it is a crisis for not only the victims, but their families as well. The disease is devastating beyond anything I could articulate.”
One of the important aspects of the walk is the Promise Garden. The Promise Garden is a tribute ceremony to honor Alzheimer’s disease victims. Each participant chooses a flower that is one of four colors: blue, purple, yellow or orange. Blue flowers represent a current patient of the disease; purple means the participant has lost someone to Alzheimer’s; yellow signifies the walker is caring for or taking care of a patient with Alzheimer’s; and orange means that the participant has no personal connection to the disease, but they support the cause.
“What we do is plant the flowers in the ground while everyone walks, and afterwards they can come to the garden and pick up their flower,” said Walker. “It’s a beautiful sight, but it’s an emotional time.”
The Alzheimer’s Association uses an advocacy group to raise awareness with the intent on getting their voice heard in Washington, D.C. The association is trying to bring national attention to the disease in order to raise money for research, since there is currently no prevention or cure.
“We want our people in Washington, D.C, to hear from us more,” said Walker. “We want to get more awareness. We need to let people know because there needs to be a connection in order for people to fight for a cure. The only way we’re going to get a cure is through research. Money is the most critical thing we need.”
The University of West Georgia (UWG) personally participated in this year’s walk. Around 20 percent of the walkers were guesstimated to be UWG students, and the sorority Sigma Kappa offered to help manage the booths and checked people in for the walk. The West Georgia Track Club also volunteered for their first time, and they helped warm people up by stretching and dancing to the “Cha-Cha Slide” as well as set up tables and chairs.
“The culture of the West Georgian chapter consists of committed members,” said Walker. “They all have a place in the group. Between them and the information we give, it will touch people’s hearts and get them involved.”