Many enthusiastic and passionate supporters came out on a sunny and fiercely windy morning in Southwind Park for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on September 22, 2012 in Springfield, Illinois. Not only was the event a fundraiser, but it was also a moving tribute to those who currently suffer from or care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
I volunteered to help find people who might be interested in participating in clinical research trials, and in this role was reminded how much fear is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. As I walked through the crowd and talked to attendees, I was greeted with much anxiety and heard often, “No, I don’t want to ever know if I might get Alzheimer’s disease.” This response reinforced the need to find a cure for me because people are so afraid of this devastating illness.
A touching speech was made by a woman in her fifties who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease three years ago and her caregiver husband, both of whom stressed fighting as long as possible and dealing with the diagnosis as best they could.
Colorful pinwheels were given to participants and held proudly to designate roles of those in attendance – purple for those who have lost loved ones, blue for those currently living with Alzheimer’s, yellow for caregivers, and orange for advocates. These pinwheels spun out of control at times as the wind gusted. I thought this was a lovely symbol of solidarity but noticed only a couple of blue pinwheels in the crowd. Purple and yellow pinwheels were represented the most, and I proudly held my purple pinwheel in memory of my own mother, who lost her battle with Alzheimer’s in 2009.
The walk after the brief rally was somber and befitting the occasion as we all walked together around Southwind Park, each silently hopeful that some day there will be a cure found to stop the suffering from this horrible and frightful disease. I thought about my mother and family as I walked on their behalf, and I reflected on my greatest wish the entire time. Please let there be a world without Alzheimer’s disease for my children and their children.