Walkers from around Howard County laced up their sneakers Saturday for the annual Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Centennial Park in Ellicott City.
Held in person after two years of virtual fundraisers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the walk brought together 743 walkers on 99 teams and raised $171,141, according to the Alzheimer’s Association website.
The walk is held in more than 600 communities across the country and is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, research and support.
“People are excited to take part in a social setting where the energy raises spirits,” said Katie Bittinger, walk constituent events manager, in a news release. “Plus, families who are affected by the disease can see that they have community support.”
Before the walk began, walkers were asked to raise large pinwheel flowers with colors designating how the disease has affected their lives – blue for people living with the disease, orange for supporters, purple for those who have lost someone to the disease, and yellow for caregivers and care partners. One walker raised a single white flower to signify the hope of finding a cure.
Paulette Lundy, 52, of Columbia, lost her mother to Alzheimer’s in January and participated in the Howard walk to help others whose loved ones succumbed to the disease.
“This is an insidious disease that robs families of their loved ones,” she said. “I came upon the Howard County Alzheimer’s Association and I said, we absolutely have to support them and to raise the banner and let people know that this is a major issue.”
Beth Olney, 55, of Ellicott City, said her mother died of Alzheimer’s in July. She walked to support those serving as caregivers and care partners to their loved ones. Olney said she hopes the walk will help the association get one step closer to finding a cure.
“Unfortunately there was no cure in order to save my mom, but I want to be more involved, and I really want to be a part and be able to celebrate when that first survivor beats Alzheimer’s,” she said.