Purple flower pinwheels along with orange, yellow and a single blue one spun in the wind Saturday as participants of the East Central Alabama 2016 Walk to end Alzheimer’s held them up in the air.
“If they have an orange one it means they don’t have a personal connection to Alzheimer’s but they support the cause,” Courtney Jeffreys said Saturday. “The yellow ones are reserved for caregivers, purple for those who have lost someone to the disease and the blue are for our fiercest. Those are the ones who are currently battling the disease.”
Nearly 500 participants took the two mile walk starting at Michael Tucker Park in Anniston down the Chief Ladiga Trail, said Jeffreys, the senior manager of development.
“We’ve outgrown our home at Oxford Lake,” she said. “This is a great location because it allows us to spread out more and we have more shade.”
Teams raised more than $19,000 online but Jeffreys said there was at least $2,000 turned in during registration Saturday morning.
“Our goal is $32,500,” she said. “Our donation deadline is not until Dec. 1.”
Across the United States more than five million people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s while nearly 15 million take on the responsibilities as their caregivers, Jeffrey’s said.
In Alabama, more than 89,000 people in Alabama have Alzheimer’s, and they’re supported by almost 302,000 caregivers who annually provide more than 344 million hours of unpaid care, Mike Crosby said during the opening ceremony for the walk.
“Let that sink in,” he said.
Bonnie Knight, a 71-year-old Anniston resident, is one of those caregivers for her 79-year-old friend.
“We were both born in May,” she said. “People born in May like earthy type things. We bond over our love of flowers, color. It’s amazing how much of the same things we like.”
Knight said that in conversations with her friend, she could recall the past like it was yesterday, but something that happened five minutes prior would be lost to her.
“It’s rewarding being a caregiver,” she said, “but it’s so sad.”
Jeffreys said it was exciting that participation was up this year.
“When we increase numbers we increase awareness,” she said. “The fact that people are out here for a disease without a cure, it’s encouraging. They are our hope.”