The Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter is hosting the North Central Washington Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday. The event will be held at Pybus Public Market, with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. The opening ceremony starts at 9:30 a.m. and the two-mile walk begins at 10 a.m.

Last year, the local Walk to End Alzheimer’s attracted nearly 300 participants and raised more than $65,000. The event is one of 600 walks held annually in communities nationwide, raising awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and nearly $97 million for Alzheimer’s care, support and research programs.

Event participants honor people affected by the disease, carrying flowers to represent why they walk: a purple flower means you’ve lost a loved one, the yellow flower is for caregivers and the blue flower is carried by individuals living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. The white flower, a symbol for Alzheimer’s first survivor, is part of the opening Promise Garden Ceremony, an inspiring display of hope that kicks off the walk.

Bob Reinholt of East Wenatchee will be holding a purple flower in honor of his wife of 60 years, George Ann, who passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in December 2017. This is the fourth year in a row that he and his team, Reinholt Family and Friends, will participate in the event.

“The Alzheimer’s Association and the Walk have been a great help to me. We all look forward to being together for such a great cause,” says Reinholt. “Even though George Ann is gone, I still want to stay involved in the Walk and other activities that the Alzheimer’s Association offers.”

Funding from the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is crucial to supporting local community programs for people facing Alzheimer’s or dementia — as well as critical research being done nationally and internationally to find an effective means of prevention, treatment and a cure.

“When you think about how many people are affected by Alzheimer’s, it makes a person want to do whatever they can to help fight it,” says Reinholt. “I truly believe there is someone living today that will be the first person cured of this terrible disease.”

During the event, people also have the opportunity to learn more about the disease and local support programs to help. The Alzheimer’s Association currently offers two caregiver support groups in the Wenatchee area, and are currently looking for volunteers to start new support groups across the region. The organization also hosts occasional events throughout the year to provide education, offer support and raise awareness about available resources.

People may also reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association, any time day or night, through a 24/7 helpline (1-800-272-3900). Masters-level clinicians are available to provide information, support, care consultation and referrals to local resources. The Alzheimer’s Association website (alz.org) is also a wonderful resource and is often a person’s first stop when looking for Alzheimer’s and dementia information, education and support resources.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, a term for memory loss and cognitive changes severe enough to interfere with daily living. It is a progressive and fatal brain disorder and the only leading cause of death in the nation that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

According to the 2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, there are 5.8 million Americans currently living with the disease and that number is expected to increase to 14 million by 2050. In Washington state alone, there are 110,000 people age 65+ living with the disease and another 348,000 unpaid caregivers providing support to their loved ones with dementia.

If you would like to participate or make a donation to the North Central Washington Walk to End Alzheimer’s, please visit act.alz.org/wenatchee or call 1-800-272-3900.

Carrie McBride is marketing and communications director for the Washington state chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.