Santa Rosa pre-teen is a top Walk fundraiser

Katelynn Anderson of Santa Rosa has been going to Walk to End Alzheimer’s every year since she was born.  She walks in honor of her two great grandmothers who both died with Alzheimer’s. Now 12 years old, Katelynn is currently one of the top 20 fundraisers for the Sonoma-Marin Walk. She also takes pride in volunteering for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

First memories of Great Grandma
Katelynn was born in 2007. Eight months later, Great Grandma Doris died.  “I don’t remember her, I’ve just seen pictures,” shared Katelynn. “But Great Grandma Doris is the reason my mom started our Walk team.”

In 2018 Katelynn’s other great grandmother, Ruby, passed away. “I loved hearing stories about her childhood and about her golfing,” shared Katelynn. “For Mother’s Day we took her to the driving range. She was 98 years old and could still hit the ball a long way.”

A year-round Walk volunteer
As a huge supporter of Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Petaluma, Katelynn has become an excellent volunteer who helps all year.  She has given speeches to share her story and encourage others to participate in the Walk.

Katelynn volunteers at recruitment events, helping with set up, check-in and clean up. These events inform people about the Walk and encourage them to start their own team.

Katelynn giving a speech at a recruitment event

Additionally, Katelynn participates in community events such as the Butter and Eggs Parade in Petaluma to help spread the word about Walk to End Alzheimer’s. “I helped decorate the float and then I passed out information cards,” shares Katelynn.

On Walk day, Katelynn can be found handing out promise flowers to her fellow Walkers or holding a flower during the opening ceremony. Promise flowers represent someone’s connection to the disease. Katelynn will be representing the hope for the future.

The perks of fundraising as a kid
Individual Walk participants who raise over $1,000 achieve Grand Champion status. This year marks Katelynn’s third year as a Grand Champion. “The first year it was in honor of the 10-year anniversary of Great Grandma Doris’ passing,” shares Katelynn. “The next year I wanted to do it for my other Great Grandma, Ruby.”

Katelynn asks companies for donations she can use to raise funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.  Companies have donated car washes, concert tickets, gift cards and so much more. “I just email companies asking if they’d like to donate,” shares Katelynn. “If they say ‘no’ I move on and ask other businesses. I keep persevering.”

Katelynn at the 2018 Petaluma Walk to End Alzheimer’s

“I think that many companies have a hard time saying no to kids,” Katelynn continues, “especially when they know it is for an important cause.”

This year Katelynn expanded her fundraising efforts to include give back nights at local restaurants. Many restaurants will donate a percentage of their profits on a select date, as a nonprofit fundraiser. Katelynn says, “I did one at Chipotle this year where I raised $100. I also raised $220 at Mountain Mike’s Pizza.”

Tips for Walk day
On Walk day Katelynn loves it when her family pulls into the parking lot and sees everyone wearing purple. She has some tips for first time Walkers:

  • After you check in, go to the promise flower station and pick up a flower. It’s the best way to honor someone fighting this disease. You can write their name on the flower and hold it up during the promise flower ceremony.
  • Walk around to all of the sponsor tables. There are resources available for those living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and for caregivers.

Katelynn will be walking this year with her family at the Sonoma-Marin Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 19, 2019 at Shollenberger Park in Petaluma.  You can join her team Walkin’ for Grandma, or form your own team at alz.org/Walk.