More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Alzheimer’s is that it’s something that will eventually happen if you live long enough, said Meredith Woodbridge, the communications coordinator for the Oklahoma Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
“And that’s just not true,” Woodbridge said. “Alzheimer’s is a disease and it’s not a normal part of aging. It is something that we should be fighting, that we should be looking for a cure for.”
Within the span of the next few days, the fight against Alzheimer’s disease will take center stage during two separate events in Ardmore.
On Saturday, over 146 individuals made up of 30 different teams are expected to join in the 2019 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Central Park. These individuals have been fundraising for the event for several months and, as of Wednesday night, have already raised $42,367.
Others are invited to participate in the walk in an effort to both raise awareness for the disease and to help meet the overall fundraising goal of $52,000.
“It’s free to participate, it’s not a requirement, but of course the fundraising is what goes to support our full mission of care, support and research,” Woodbridge said.
The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. with music, sponsor tables and vendor booths containing information about the services the Alzheimer’s Association provides, Woodbridge said. At 10 a.m., participants will be given different colored ‘Promise Flowers’ to honor those impacted by the disease during the Promise Garden Ceremony.
Each color represents a different personal reason participants have chosen to walk, Woodbridge said. Purple flowers represent those honoring a loved one lost to the disease; yellow flowers represent those currently serving as caregivers; blue flowers represent those living with dementia; and orange represents those who support the cause or mission of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Participants will then join together in a two-mile walk around the park. “It’s people coming together to show that they’re not alone, there are people going through this in all different capacities,” Woodbridge said. “It really is a beautiful display of hope, looking forward to the future where we will have our first survivor of Alzheimer’s.”
The proceeds from the event help fund research, in addition to educational programs, support groups and care consultations, all provided by the Alzheimer’s Association at no cost, Woodbridge said.
“That’s one thing that we want to come out of the walk is the fundraising to allow those programs to happen,” Woodbridge said. “But also to raise awareness so that people know they are not alone and that there are resources available to them.”
In addition to the walk, Southwest Baptist Church, located at 2120 Myall Road, will be hosting one of the association’s educational programs entitled ‘Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia’ at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
During the program, individuals will learn about the impact of Alzheimer’s, the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, the stages of Alzheimer’s, current research and treatments available, and the resources provided by the Alzheimer’s Association.
“We always say we will talk to anyone who will listen,” Woodbridge said. “So if there is a facility or a church group or a social club— anyone that would like to learn more about Alzheimer’s— we send our staff or our trained volunteer speakers to go out and present these programs for free.”
There is no registration required and the program is free to attend. Those who wish to attend the walk can also register on Saturday at the event or by visiting ardmorewalk.org.
“We really do want people to know that we’re fundraising and it’s important that we do raise money to find a cure and help those going through it,” Woodbridge said. “So it’s not too late, we are fundraising until the end of the year and people can still sign up for the walk.”