Fresno teen starts club and raises funds for Walk

By Malavika Raj

Fresno teen Akhil rebooted the Alzheimer’s awareness club on his campus after volunteering at the Fresno-Clovis Walk to End Alzheimer’s for two years. After successfully raising $1,500, his new goal is to bring awareness to the disease, support families affected by Alzheimer’s, and encourage others to help make a difference. 

Akhil and his sister at the Fresno Walk to End Alzheimer's
Akhil and his sister participating in the 2020 Fresno Walk

Starting a club
Akhil, a sophomore in Fresno, started the Alzheimer’s club on campus after realizing that it had been discontinued. Wanting to help spread awareness about the illness, he took it upon himself to restart it. 

While he personally does not know anyone that has been affected by Alzheimer’s, Akhil feels that having an Alzheimer’s club will ultimately help those who have a loved one living with the disease. He understands the difficulty it must place on their family members. 

Using the club for good
Akhil wants his club to not only educate his fellow students but also encourage them to get involved and possibly even raise funds.

Akhil hopes to:

  • Bring in guest speakers who can talk about their experiences either as a caregiver or a person living with the disease.
  • Find a way to lend a helping hand to families that have been affected by the disease.
  • Set up fundraisers with proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association®.
Akhil and his sister volunteer at the Fresno Walk to End Alzheimer's
Akhil and his sister volunteer at the 2019 Fresno Walk

Fundraising by app
While this may be the first year for the Alzheimer’s club it is not Akhil’s first year participating in Walk to End Alzheimer’s®.  For the last few years, Akhil and his family have been walking in the Fresno-Clovis Walk to End Alzheimer’s. For the past two years, Akhil volunteered his time on Walk day.

Because of the pandemic, this year, Walk was everywhere.  However, it didn’t make fundraising any easier. Akhil’s team, Teens Against Alzheimer’s, beat the odds and was able to raise over $1,500 by asking friends, family and others to help donate.

Akhil said one of the best tools for him was the Walk to End Alzheimer’s mobile app. He was inspired by the messages that urged him to keep persisting despite the circumstances.  

The mobile app for Walk to End Alzheimer’s is a great way to access your Walk fundraising page, update your photo, check your fundraising and even deposit checks. It also gives you the ability to share and send messages to easily thank people that donate to your Walk team.

The Walk mobile app had a new feature this year that allowed you to sync it with your Apple Health or Google Fit apps to count your steps. It also allowed you to see the total steps that have been taken across the country to end Alzheimer’s.  

Akhil and his family walking for the Fresno Walk to End Alzheimer's
Akhil and his family on Walk day

Encouragement from his family
Akhil’s family emigrated from South Africa. Kesheni, Akhil’s mother, understands that there is not a lot of networking or support available for older people, especially immigrants, living with Alzheimer’s. Kesheni believes that there is a stigma attached to having dementia and knows that it is important for people living with the disease to have a solid support system. 

Kesheni says she is very proud of Akhil’s motivation and drive. She encourages him to show support for the elderly in their community. She hopes that the work Akhil and the members of his club accomplish will help to provide more support groups within their community.

The 2020 Walk to End Alzheimer’s season may be over, but it’s not too late to raise funds and earn some great prizes. Start your own team or join Akhil’s team, Teens against Alzheimer’s. Fundraising continues until December 31. 

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