Click through the photo gallery to see photos from the walk.
BY: NATHANIEL GAYNOR
LANSING STAR STAFF WRITER
More than 700 people gathered at the Capitol Building in Lansing, Sunday, in order to raise money for Alzheimer’s and dementia research.
“Our goal was to raise $127,000 and this morning, I know that we’ve almost reached our goal,” Suzanne Farris, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s volunteer coordinator said, Sunday, before the walk began. By the time the walk began, Farris had announced that the goal was reached.
About the walk
This walk is one of more than 600 walks nationwide.
According to their website, “the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.”
Farris has been participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the past five years.
“I’ve been doing this ever since my father-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Farris, wearing the official 2013 Walk to End Alzheimer’s purple shirt, her father-in-law’s name written on the front. “The walk is a great way to bring together a lot of people who share similar experiences, and to raise money for an important cause.”
As volunteer coordinator, Farris assembles people to work the event at the registration table, the 50/50 raffle, the promise garden tent, the information tent and the raffle.
Sea of flowers
In the promise garden tent, volunteers gave each participant a pinwheel flower. Blue flowers were for those who had Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. Yellow flowers were for those people supporting or caring for someone with the diseases, while purple flowers were for those who had lost someone to the the diseases. Orange flowers were given to those who were simply there supporting the cause.
The emcees of the event, WLNS-TV’s Jane Aldrich and FOX 47’s Kip Bohne, asked the crowd to raise their flowers, color by color until all the flowers were raised together.
“God bless you people,” said Bohne to the crowd once all the flowers had been raised.
Olivia Duong was at the event as someone who envisions a world without Alzheimer’s, holding an orange flower to symbolize her support.
“I think the flowers are a great way to see how many people have been affected by Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Duong. “I think when people see the flowers they know that they are not alone and that someone cares about finding a cure.”
Support and awareness
Linda Davis, outreach specialist for Tri-County Office of Aging, wants to bring more attention to Alzheimer’s Disease.
“Not everyone realizes the seriousness or the impact of Alzheimer’s,” said Davis who was volunteering at the information tent. “We need to bring the issue to the forefront of our conversation if we want to make progress with finding a cure for the disease.”
According to posters placed around the Capital Building’s front lawn, more than half of all Americans know someone with Alzheimer’s, and the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
Davis spent the day handing out information for participants regarding nursing homes, support groups and senior activities.
“For a lot of people, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis on a family member is hard, and there are people who are willing to help,” said Davis.
The walk: past and present
While the event has run annually for the past 16 years, this is only the second year where the event has taken place at the Capitol Building.
“We used to hold the event at the Rock at MSU, but we moved it to the Capitol last year to make it more elderly and handicap friendly,” said Farris.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s featured feel-good music performed by local Lansing band, Sudden Impact. The event also featured vendors What Up Dawg? and Bear Claw Coffee, and a moon bounce sponsored by Farm Bureau Insurance.
As the mile-long walk began, men and women pushed elderly, wheelchair-bound parents down the streets of Lansing. Children were pulled along in wagons, and participants raised their flowers high into the sky in support of their cause following directional signs that read, “This way to a world without Alzheimer’s.”