SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — On Saturday, Sept. 23, San Angelo residents will join the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease at the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s — the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. 

San Angelo’s event will kick off at 8:30 a.m. at Kirby Park, located at 1401 Edmund Drive. From there, the opening ceremony will be held at 9:30 a.m. The opening, called the “Promise Garden ceremony,” gives walkers a chance to honor those affected by Alzheimer’s in an act of solidarity by carrying flowers of various colors that represent the connections the walker has to the disease. The flower colors and their meanings are as follows:

  • Purple — the holder has lost someone to Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Yellow — the holder is a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Blue — the holder is living with Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Orange — the holder supports the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association for a world without Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia

Afterward, the walk will begin at 10 a.m. There will be multiple points in the walk where participants can stop to hydrate, and a shorter route will be available for those who cannot or do not wish to complete the full route. The event will also feature vendors as well as a kid’s area and pet station. Below is a map of the event grounds:

According to the Alzheimer’s Association walk details webpage, registration is required to participate in the walk. Registration is free, and those who wish to register can do so using the San Angelo walk’s online webpage or register in person on the day of the event.

According to Julie Gray, director of development for the West Texas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, over 6 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s across the U.S. Of those 6 million, over 400,000 are found in Texas. Additionally, there are over 1 million unpaid Alzheimer’s caregivers in Texas.

“Here in Tom Green County, roughly 12% of the population over the age of 65 is living with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia,” Gray said. “We’re talking thousands of people, right here in San Angelo, Texas, and that’s just Tom Green County.”

Gray hopes that the walk will raise awareness about Alzheimer’s within the community and bring San Angelo together in the fight to end Alzheimer’s and the stigma surrounding the disease.

“We really want to bring the community together,” Gray said. “Alzheimer’s and dementia is a very isolating disease, and there’s also still a lot of stigma around it. We really want to embrace the community to make sure that everyone knows that no one is alone in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.”

All funds raised by the walk and throughout the year directly benefit the Alzheimer’s Association, according to Gray. These funds will be used to fuel education programs, support groups, Alzheimer’s research and more.

“This year, we’re so happy and have so much more hope than we’ve ever had before,” Gray said. “We’re getting closer to that first survivor, and that’s what our goal is — We want to end Alzheimer’s.”