Hundreds of people united together to raise awareness and financial support for a disease that affects 5.5. million people during Riverside’s first annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s event on Sept. 23.
The event featured a Promise Garden ceremony representing reasons why attendees are walking through different color flowers. Among the various colors, purple represents losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s and orange represents supporting the vision of a world without the disease. There were also information booths and a two-mile fundraiser walk.
More than 500 walkers, volunteers and sponsors raised more than $30,000 for the cause.
“We gather the participants to try to get them to tell us their stories because it’s one thing to share facts and figures, but it’s another to tell stories of people who have been affected by Alzheimer’s,” said Kelsey Tierney, communications specialist for the Alzheimer’s Association. “It gets people to our resources.”
Tierney also said attending walks like this is important because it raises awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association’s resources such as the 24/7 Alzheimer’s Association Helpline, support groups and educational programs.
“We have a helpline that has been such a big thing for people,” Tierney said. “The more awareness we have the more people know about that number and have that resource.”
The walk was also a way for students to make a difference. Maria Muganzo, senior at Sacramento State University and caregiver, volunteered to raise awareness on behalf of her patients and her friend whose grandfather has Alzheimer’s.
“Eventually we’re all going to get older and we all could be
affected by this,” Muganzo said. “If you don’t know how you can prevent Alzheimer’s, it may happen on a larger scale.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, getting regular exercise, eating healthy, playing challenging mind stimulation games and seeking help for cognitive issues such as depression or anxiety are all positive habits and activities that can be done to prevent Alzheimer’s.
Because many people have the disease, it is likely that students at California Baptist University know classmates that have a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Cynthia Ng, head chair of the Riverside and Ontario Alzheimer’s Walk Association, whose parents had Alzheimer’s and dementia, shared her best advice to students who want to encourage their friends.
“It’s really just being there,” Ng said. “Friends would send me a text like ‘Hey, just checking in.’ It gives me the opportunity to vent; sometimes you don’t want to vent to family members because they are dealing with the same burden.”
For more information on the Alzheimer’s Association: Visit alz. org or call the 24/7 Helpline at 1.800.272.3900.