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A Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Community support needed now more than ever

If you’ve been touched by Alzheimer’s disease, you’ll understand. Looking into the eyes of someone you have spent a lifetime with who no longer recognizes you or, worse, themselves is absolutely devastating. That’s just one example of its effects.

The vision of the Alzheimer’s Association is “a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.” But that vision has been altered by COVID-19, putting fundraising for this organization in jeopardy.

“As an association, we rely heavily on our mass market events and our ability to bring large groups of people together surrounding this cause,” said Kristin Copenhaver, communications director for the Michigan chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “Because we can’t do that this year, we’re seeing a decrease in our teams and participation, which has resulted in a decrease in fundraising. Alzheimer’s isn’t stopping, and neither will we. We’re still walking. We’re still providing free programs and services for Michiganders. Funds are more important than ever. And we need community support.”

For this year’s event, participants can walk anywhere and everywhere.

“The Walk to End Alzheimer’s continues this year, but instead of hosting a large gathering, the Alzheimer’s Association is encouraging participants to walk as individuals or in small groups on sidewalks, tracks and trails across the region,” Copenhaver said.

Okemos residents Bertha Bullen and husband James Kruse are Alzheimer’s Association volunteers. They are group facilitators, annual participants in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and legislative advocates at both the federal and state levels.

“I first became aware of Alzheimer’s disease in the early 1980s when my husband’s mother was diagnosed,” Bullen said.  “Since then, our two families have lost 10 loved ones, including my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, my husband’s aunt and several of his cousins. Sadly, we know that Alzheimer’s isn’t done with us yet — two other family members are showing early signs, and we are both at increased risk for the disease ourselves.  Hope for a cure is what gets me out of bed in the morning.”

Bullen can’t say enough about what the organization provides: “I depend on the Alzheimer’s Association for reliable, evidence-based information, which helps me understand the disease process, improve communication and care, and avoid ‘miracle-cure’ scams.”

Part of participation in events like the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is cathartic for Bullen.

“I take comfort in knowing that my feelings are shared, that I’m not alone,” she said.

Alzheimer’s is not taking a hiatus due to COVID-19. Support is needed more than ever.

“We must continue the 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,” Copenhaver said.

Lansing’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s takes place Sept. 27. For information or to register, visit alz.org/walk.

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