PARKERSBURG - More than 500 people gathered Saturday morning at City Park for the 2013 Walk to End Alzheimer's, working to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer's disease services and research.
Wendy Hamilton, regional coordinator for the Mid-Ohio Valley for the Alzheimer's Association, said the goal coming into Saturday's event was to have 44 teams, 440 participants and to raise $48,000.
At the end of the walk, organizers had beaten all three goals. A total of 46 teams participated, featuring 560 walkers.
"We also raised $54,000, with more money still coming in," Hamilton said Saturday.
"All of the money that comes from our walk will provide resources to the families, to the caregivers or to the person with the disease," she said.
Resources provided by the Alzheimer's Association include a 24/7 helpline, newsletters, workshops, support groups and other types of assistance.
Saturday's Walk to End Alzheimer's has been going on about 12 years, originally beginning in Williamstown before moving to City Park in Parkersburg. Hamilton said a new addition to this year's event was a "Living With Alzheimer's Tent" which was available for people with the disease, their caregivers and family members to take advantage of a designated space where they could remain involved with the walk, even if they needed a break from Saturday morning's activities.
Following introductions, team recognitions and speakers, a total of 560 people walked the one-mile loop around City Park, beginning and ending at the Bandshell. Some team and individual awards were presented following the walk to end Saturday's activities.
Larry Wise, of Lubeck, was one of the speakers during Saturday's opening ceremony. He talked about the impact of Alzheimer's disease on his wife, Connie, and other family and friends and thanked everyone attending Saturday's walk.
"It's wonderful," he said of Saturday's turnout. "The crowd is fantastic and all my family's here and a lot of friends. We raised $1,100 in memory of my wife, Connie."
Alisha Carmichael, of Belpre, became involved in the walk about three years ago after the death of her mother, Marsha, due to early onset Alzheimer's. She started a team, "Marching for Marsha," for her mother who died at age 58 and has come to the walk every year since that time.
Carmichael was familiar with the Alzheimer's Association at that time and wanted to learn more, but didn't begin participating in the walk until after her mother's passing due to the time and work involved in her care. In the three years since then, however, she has been active in the walk, including helping a couple of other teams get organized and involved in the event.
"I said 'I want to know more, I want to know what I can do,'" she said of how she became involved in the association and the walk.
Carmichael said she wants to help with any kind of services that help families dealing with the issues her family went through.
"It's awesome," she said of Saturday's walk. "It's raises all kinds of money, not just for the national (program), it's for here in the Mid-Ohio Valley."
According to information provided by the Alzheimer's Association, every 68 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's and the disease is the nation's sixth-leading cause of death. As baby boomers age, the number of individuals living with Alzheimer's disease will continue to escalate, increasing well beyond today's more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's.
The Alzheimer's Association, West Virginia Chapter is the only voluntary health organization in West Virginia dedicated to providing education and support service to individuals with Alzheimer's and other dementias, to their families and caregivers. The chapter serves all 55 counties in West Virginia and six counties in eastern Ohio.