Alzheimer’s Association to hold awareness walk

Participants can walk wherever they are in the community

The Alzheimer’s Association invites the public to participate in their annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s next Saturday, Sept. 26.

Instead of hosting a large gathering, the association is encouraging Fort Dodge to walk as individuals or in small groups on sidewalks, tracks and trails in the community.

“Alzheimer’s is not taking a hiatus during COVID-19 and neither are we,” said Jenny Fields, development specialist for the Alzheimer’s Association Iowa chapter. “We must continue to Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and we are working with all participants to ensure they have a powerful and moving experience that is felt when we are together.”

Many participants, Fields said, are at higher risk for complication from contracting the coronavirus, reinforcing their commitment to a socially distanced, safe event to continue the tradition.

“This year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be everywhere,” said Wendy Vizek, vice president of constituent events at the Alzheimer’s Association. “The pandemic is changing how we walk, but it doesn’t change the need to walk. This year, more than ever, we need to come together to support all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementia.”

The association will continue to provide care and support to affected families during difficult times and advance critical research toward methods of treatment and prevention with money raised by the walk.

This year, some regular components of the annual walk — the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for the cause — are being replicated virtually. The opening ceremony will feature local speakers and a presentation of Promise Flowers to honor the personal reasons participants join together to fight Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, which participants can view on their smartphones, tablets and computers. At the Fort Dodge Middle School, some staff members and volunteers will create the iconic Promise Garden in a “view only” format the day of the walk to honor those impacted by the disease.

New features this year, added to enhance the experience, include a smartphone application to create an opportunity for the community to connect. Participants can use the app and new “Walk Mainstage” to track their steps and distance during the walk, follow a virtual walking path, manage Facebook fundraisers for the organization and access resources to help individuals and families affected by the disease. Those using the new app can also listen to a new audio track on their walk to encourage them along the path.

Over 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., the nonprofit said. More than 16 million family members and friends provide care to those living with the disease and other forms of dementia.

In Iowa alone, there are more than 66,000 people living with the disease and 136,000 caregivers.


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