A Promise Flower ceremony is held prior to every Walk to End Alzheimer's event as a way to honor those touched by the disease. (Submitted photo)
Dover, Ohio - An event this weekend will raise funds and awareness for the only leading cause of death in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, treated or cured.
Held each September, the Tuscarawas County Walk to End Alzheimer’s is an annual fundraising event for the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.
The 2018 event is set for this Saturday, September 15, at Dover Middle School, but organizers say there’s still plenty of time to get involved.
Genevieve Bohnak is the Community Development Coordinator for the Alzheimer's Association’s Greater East Ohio Chapter. She individuals and teams can register online in advance or in-person on the day of the event.
“Our event is open to the community. We welcome anyone who wants to form a team, and we invite individuals to walk,” she says.
Same-day registration begins Saturday at 8:30 a.m. There is no cost to register, however, individual participants who raise $100 or more will receive a complimentary event t-shirt.
Opening ceremonies begin at 9:30 and include a presentation about the Alzheimer’s Association and its services and an awards ceremony recognizing the individuals and teams that have raised the most money toward the cause.
Following the awards will be one of the most highly-anticipated activities of the day - the event’s signature Promise Flower ceremony.
“What happens is everyone who is registered, they get to pick a flower. There are four different colors, and they choose the flower based on their connection to the disease,” Bohnak explains.
A blue Promise Flower represents someone living with Alzheimer's or dementia. A purple flower is for participants who have lost a loved one to the disease. Yellow is for current caregivers, and orange is for individuals who do not have a personal connection but support the vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.
“We’ll have volunteers come up who represents each of the colors, and we’ll do a nice little ceremony,” Bohnak says.
Last year, a white flower was also added to represent survivors in the hopes that a cure will one day be found.
“We hope that one day we’ll be able to have white flowers that people can take to say that they survived, but right now we’re still looking for that cure,” Bohnak shares.
A short, non-competitive walk ideal for participants of all ages and abilities will begin immediately following the Promise Flower ceremony.
Those unable to participate in the walk can still support the cause by donating to an individual walker or team or to the overall walk. Donations can be made in person on the day of the event or online by visiting act.alz.org and clicking on the link provided to enter the location for the local walk.
Bohnak says the overall fundraising goal for this year is $41,000, or about $8,000 more than what was raised last year.
“Alzheimer's is an aggressive disease, which is why we have to be aggressive with our fundraising,” she says.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause in the U.S. and the fifth leading cause of death among Americans ages 65 and older, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 5.7 million Americans and currently living with the disease, and that number is expected to rise to nearly 14 million by 2020.
Stacey Carmany, Tusco TV