Why I Walk: My Story

It’s my 8th walk season as a staff member of the Alzheimer’s Association and my 11th year as walker. As we head into this weekend with our biggest walk of the year on Saturday in San Francisco, I feel compelled to write about the importance and urgency around this cause and Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Me and Mom

Me and Mom

This Sunday would have been my mom’s 67th birthday and on Monday I turn 40.  Mom was diagnosed at age 52 and lost her battle with Alzheimer’s at age 61.  If we don’t do something to change the course of this disease I could follow in her footsteps.  Just 12 years from now, my family could be battling this disease all over again.

But those are not the footsteps I want to follow. This Saturday, I will be following in the footsteps of thousands of walkers and fundraisers who have made the San Francisco walk a million dollar walk for the past six years in a row, and hundreds of walkers who have walked with the Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter at walks all over the Bay Area and beyond for 10, 15,  even 20 years!

In my seven years with the Alzheimer’s Association, I have watched our walk program grow from just seven walks raising about $1.7 million to 17 walks set to raise $3.5 million for the cause this year. We have walks in communities from Redding to Fresno and Monterey to Reno and a few stops in between. I’m excited about our new walks in Napa, Solano and Yuba City this year because these walks allow us to bring more people – new people – into the cause and that’s what we need to do to get to our goal of a world without Alzheimer’s. I’m excited to see 3,000 faces at the San Francisco Walk on Saturday, but wouldn’t it be great if there were 10,000 people walking the waterfront in San Francisco, moving the cause forward, raising awareness and standing together for an end to this disease?

Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the primary way the Alzheimer’s Association raises funds to provide programs and services to families dealing with this devastating disease. Alzheimer’s is a growing epidemic and without the support of our walkers, we wouldn’t be able to meet the needs of so many families who are affected.  Thanks to the fundraising efforts of over 15,000 participants across our chapter, we can provide a 24-hour helpline for families in need of information and referrals, support groups for caregivers and care consultations for families and caregivers in crisis. Our participants’ dedication to the cause allows us to fund research, advocate for increased research funding and raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease across the country.

We need you now more than ever.  Our goal is to raise $3,500,000 with our 17 walks here in Northern California and Northern Nevada.  Here are four things you can do today to make the 2013 Walk to End Alzhiemer’s in your community a huge success:

  1. Register to Walk and Fundraise –  It’s not too late. We need more people to take a stand against this disease. We need you!  Your participation really does make a difference. Register here: www.alz.org/walk
  2. Invite a freind (or two or three) to walk and FUNDRAISE with you.  Most walkers find out about the walk from a friend, family member or colleague so we need you to spread the word so our walk can grow.
  3. Ask for support.  We know not everyone is a born fundraiser, but we hope you’ll ask at least one person (or two or twenty) to support you in your efforts to raise funds to end Alzheimer’s. Tell them why you walk, give them the opportunity to support a cause that is important to you.
  4. Promote the event.  We have got posters, brochures, yard signs and car magnets that we’d love to give you to help us turn Northern California and Northern Nevada purple and make sure everyone knows about the Walk to End Alzheimer’s! Email esmith@alz.org to order materials today.