Recent high school grad shares what it’s like on Chico Walk committee
At the age of six, Mikade Burns started unofficially volunteering for the Chico Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Twelve years later, Mikade is a member of the Walk Planning Committee. He shares what it’s like to be on the committee and encourages other teens and young adults to volunteer.
A reason to Walk
Mikade Burns, one of the youngest members of the Chico Walk to End Alzheimer’s Walk Planning Committee, thought his only connection to Alzheimer’s disease was through his mother’s work. Her company, Interim Healthcare, was, and still is, a sponsor for the Walk. Unfortunately, Mikade learned he had a second connection to the disease, his uncle Ed.
Ed lived on a farm in Oregon. Because of the distance, Mikade didn’t see him that often, but Mikade looks back fondly on the time they spent together. “I remember going up to Oregon and seeing his farm,” said Mikade. “Checking out the cows, going to the little pond they had and riding his ATV. It’s nice to think back on all the memories I have with him.”
A young start
Mikade got his start as a volunteer at the young age of six. He began by helping his mom at her company’s booth on Walk day. “I would go to the events and hang around,” said Mikade. “I’d help out wherever I could. I really enjoyed going every year. The community and the people behind the Walk are amazing.”
When Mikade turned 14 he became an unofficial Walk day volunteer. On that day, the Walk was short volunteers and they knew Mikade would be a big help. The next year he decided he wanted to do more. He reached out to the Walk manager and asked if he could join the Walk Planning Committee. The Walk manager was happy to have him participate.
Joining a great cause
Three years later, Mikade is a well-established committee member, involved in several areas of Walk preparation. “I’m a jack of all trades,” said Mikade. “Wherever I can help, I want to go.”
Mikade wants other people to be a part of the cause, especially younger people. “We don’t think it affect us [teenagers and young adults] immediately,” said Mikade. “But almost everyone has a story of a family member or friend having the disease. It’s a great cause for anyone of any age or background.”
Becoming a committee member
A big event like Walk to End Alzheimer’s® can seem intimidating. However, Mikade wants to ease fears by sharing what it’s like to be a committee member:
During winter and spring, the time commitment for a committee member is very light. They meet once a month for a few hours. “The time commitment varies, but it’s only a few hours a month,” said Mikade. “Sometimes you make phone calls or attend a recruitment event.”
As fall approaches, and Walk day gets closer, the time commitment increases. The committee meets more frequently. Depending on your role, such as the Logistics Subcommittee (figuring out where things go on Walk day) or the Team Retention Subcommittee (calling past participants to encourage them to come back) some members put in six to eight hours a month. Mikade says, “You make priority for the things you care about.”
Learning about Alzheimer’s
Every year, the Alzheimer’s Association® releases its annual Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report. This report reveals the data about Alzheimer’s and dementia as it relates to individuals, caregivers, government and the nation’s health care system.
Committee members learn some of the statistics about Alzheimer’s and share them with others in the community. “It’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States [and the third leading cause of death in California],” said Mikade. “One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. It’s so prevalent in our community and that’s why I think it’s important to support this cause.”
A participant who shows up on Walk day will see several booths, tents, and multi colored flowers all set up and ready for participants to enjoy.
When the committee members arrive on Walk day, it’s often still dark. “You wake up early, get your coffee and are at the venue by 6 a.m.,” said Mikade. “Everyone has headlamps on and flashlights. You have to finish up final touches, like the flowers, bringing the food and coffee in, and setting up the registration booths.
“There is plenty to do. You are busy until 8 a.m., and then you hang out until the participants show up. During the event everyone is assigned a task. You talk to as many participants as you can and help out where needed.”
An experience you want to have
Mikade encourages others to not only learn about the disease but also who the Alzheimer’s Association is helping: the families. “The one thing that always gets me, is hearing about caregivers who care for those living with the disease” said Mikade. “It’s enlightening and moving to learn about them. This is an awesome cause, and you learn about the disease. Being on the committee is an experience you want to have.”
To join the Walk Planning Committee in your local community search for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s nearest to you, click the ‘Volunteer’ button, and fill out the volunteer interest form.
You can join Mikade’s team, Harris and Plottel or form your own team and join us for the Chico Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 9 at Bidwell Park, Sycamore Filed. Not in Chico? Find a Walk near you at alz.org/walk.