Vermonters are putting up a fight against Alzheimer’s. Nearly 1,000 people were in purple for the Champlain Valley’s annual walk to end the disease.
“This ends up being a really joyful, community experience where people can see they’re not alone dealing with this disease,” said Mary Thon of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Vermont chapter.
There are more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s, it impacts more than 13,000 people in the Green Mountain State.
Prior to the walk, participants raised flowers in unity symbolizing the different reasons to end Alzheimer’s, many marked with their personal connection to the disease. One team was walking for Fletcher ‘Bud’ Perry, a father and grandfather who passed away from the disease 5 years ago.
“We watched the disease and how detrimental it was to not only him but to us as his loved ones watching him suffer through it,” said one of his granddaughters.
“We just saw the decline,” Perry’s daughter said. Every week, it was very sad. He didn’t know who we were at the end, but we kept going.”
More than 30,000 Vermonters serve as caregivers for those with Alzheimer’s. Money raised from the walk goes toward national and global research, as well as programs and services that benefit people living with the disease in Vermont.
“It’s very much a family affair when people need to help with caregiving and making those decisions,” Thon said. “It can wipe out a family’s financial which can affect generations.”
“I think we all hope there’s a cure,” said 6th grader, Makayla Johnson who has participated in the walk for more than a decade.
“I hope there’s a cure because my grandparents are getting older, said her friend Giavanna Provost, also in 6th grade. “I don’t know what their genes are, but I know it would really be painful if I saw them suffer from Alzheimer’s.
The Alzheimer’s Association’s set a fundraising goal of $327,000. So far, more than $200,000 has been raised. Donations are being accepted until December, you can donate here: https://act.alz.org