Alzheimer’s walk at Tanglewood Park to raise money, provide reflection

Alzheimer’s walk at Tanglewood Park to raise money, provide reflection
October 15
00:00 2015

By Todd Luck

The Chronicle

Locals will have a chance to support the Alzheimer’s disease research and care at the

Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday, Oct. 31.

The Western Carolina Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, which covers 49 counties in Western North Carolina, will be holding the walk at Tanglewood Park. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk starts at 10:15 a.m. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. There’re more than 5 million people living with the disease in the United States with more than 170,000 of them in North Carolina. The greatest known risk factor is aging, with the majority of those with the disease being 65 or older, but there is also a higher risk among the African-American and Hispanic populations.

The association provides educational programs, support groups and other types of help for those with Alzheimer’s and their caretakers.

It also funds research for Alzheimer’s. Nationally, the Alzheimer’s Association has awarded more than $350 million to more than 2,300 Alzheimer’s research projects since 1982. It is the largest non-profit funder of Alzheimer’s research and is the third largest funder period, with only the United States and Chinese governments spending more on Alzheimer’s research.

The walk is not just a fundraiser, but also chance to reflect on Alzheimer’s. Participants will be given Promise Flowers with different colors representing their connections to Alzheimer’s: orange for a supporter of the cause, purple for those who’ve lost a loved one to the disease, blue for those living with the disease and yellow for caregivers. Shortly before the walk, there will be a ceremony when a story from each of these perspectives will be shared. As they start the walk, participants will “plant” their flowers, which can they can inscribe messages or the name of loved ones on, in the ground as a Promise Garden. The trek will end back at the garden, where participants will gather their Promise Flowers and take them home.

“It’s a really neat experience as you walk back in from the walk to have this whole garden of support and a garden of promise that’s grown while you’ve been out on the walk,” said Katherine Lambert, CEO of the Western Carolina Alzheimer’s Association.

The walk is one of 16 walks the regional chapter is holding this year that are major fundraisers for the organization.

“With no way to slow progression or no way to prevent onset at this point for treatment or a cure, it’s a significant public health issue for us as a country,” said Lambert

Among those who’ve received research grants from the Alzheimer’s Association is Tao Ma, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Ma is looking into the causes for the disease, hoping to lay the ground work for effective ways to treat it.

“We still don’t have a very good understanding of the disease,” said Ma.

He said he was grateful to receive funding to try and help change that. Ma and his grad students will be among the participants at the walk.

“It’s one of those opportunities to let people know that we care and we can help, that they can help,” he said. “It lets more people know about Alzheimer’s disease and to support Alzheimer’s disease research.”


To register online for the walk, go to

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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