Hundreds of people wearing purple shirts added different-colored flowers to “The Promise Garden” personalizing each person’s reason for participating in the event.
“The people with the purple flowers have lost somebody to Alzheimer’s, people that have yellow flowers are currently caring for somebody with Alzheimer’s, and orange represents people who are advocates for the cause,” explained Kathleen O’Reilly, director of Development for the Alzheimer’s Association. “The blue flower represents those currently living with the disease”
This was the association’s fourth walk of the year in New York City. The walks attracted over 4,500 people and raised around $850,000, a significant increase from last year’s walks.
Money not only goes to research, but to help people with the disease and their families.
“Our biggest area that we do, particularly in New York, is through care and support,” said executive director Christopher Smith. “We have legal and financial programs to be able to sit down and talk to people because it’s a very expensive disease in terms of home health care.”
The money also supports a 24/7 care support hotline (800-272-3900) available to anyone dealing with the disease.
“We are trying to make people aware of the disease, get diagnosed earlier, reach out when they need help and support,” said Smith.
Another aspect of the walk is to recruit volunteers, both healthy and with the disease, in order to further investigate the diseases patterns and behaviors. The Director of Programs at the Alzheimer’s Association, Anafidelia Tavares, discussed this aspect of the walk.
“We are linking researchers who are working on a cure to healthy volunteers or people with the disease because we know we need to fund the researchers, but those researchers need people to participate in the research,” said Anafidelia Tavares, director of programs for the Alzheimer's Association.
“We’re just making awareness of the disease,” said walker Mary Monaghan. It seems to be hitting people who are younger and younger every year, not just older people that are over 60. It’s the most underfunded disease, and people need to be made aware that any contribution they can make is important.”