Organizers are hoping for a good turnout on Saturday when the Walk to End Alzheimer’s returns to Ludington’s Waterfront Park.
The walk was held virtually in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but “we’re moving back to in-person this year, and we’re really excited about that,” said event manager Rachel Dober of the Alzheimer’s Association Michigan Chapter.
It will take place along the 1-mile walking loop at Waterfront Park, starting at 10:30 a.m. Registration is at 9:30 a.m. and there’s an opening ceremony at 10.
Dober said the walk is an important way to boost awareness about Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia, and also an opportunity to raise funds to aid in the search for a cure.
“The walk raises funds for care, support and research for Alzheimer’s disease,” she said. “The money raised will go to the Alzheimer’s Association, support groups, educational programming and care consultation in all the areas we serve.”
According to Dober, the goal is to raise $45,500 this year. About $31,000 has already been raised, and Dober is optimistic that the goal will be met.
She said donations that count toward the total will continue to be accepted until Dec. 31, “so people can continue fundraising all year.”
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s welcomes those who’ve been personally affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia, those with loved ones who are currently living with or have passed away from the disease, and anyone who wants to support the cause.
Dober said about 85 people are signed up, and more are expected to sign up by the weekend.
“We invite everyone to participate, and everyone is welcome,” Dober said. “We’re still accepting people to register online, and they can register all the way up through walk day.”
Ludington’s event is held in conjunction with others throughout the country. The walk traditionally draws hundreds of participants, who often wear colors to signify their connection to the cause. Those who have lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s wear purple, caregivers wear yellow, advocates wear orange to represent their commitment to finding a cure and those currently living with the disease wear blue.
During the Promise Garden ceremony, which takes place prior to the start of the walk, people will hold flowers in those signifying colors, demonstrating their commitment to advocating for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.
All walkers are asked to register, either online at www.act.alz.org/masoncounty or in-person on Saturday.
Registration is free, but participants are asked to make a donation and commit to raising funds. Those who raise at least $100 will receive a Walk to End Alzheimer’s T-shirt in the mail.
Dober said volunteers are needed to help with set-up and tear-down, to hand out refreshments to walkers and to direct them on their trek. Anyone interested in helping can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dober said there are no requirements for COVID-19 mitigation measures due to the lower population of the area. There will be some provisions for those who don’t feel that it’s safe to be in a crowd, however.
“We want everyone who attends to feel comfortable,” she said. “We’ll have gloves and masks available and signage encouraging social distancing.”
Additionally, people can take part in this year’s walk virtually if they choose to. Information is available at the national Walk to End Alzheimer’s website. Virtual walks use the Walk to End Alzheimer’s mobile app.