A rainbow-hued promise garden revealed the many reasons people took part Saturday in Oberlin’s 7th Annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s, held on Tappan Square.
Walkers picked flowers that matched their connections to the disease: blue for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, purple for those who have lost of loved one, yellow for caregivers, and orange for all who support a world free of Alzheimer’s.
The goal is to one day add a fifth — a white flower representing the first patient cured.
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. In the U.S., it is the sixth-leading cause of death.
Among the top 10 causes of death among Americans, it is the only one that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
The symptoms of the disease worsen over time. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years after diagnosis but can live as long as 20 years.
This harrowing reality is hard to accept for Jessica Wyatt, whose father Donald Wyatt has dementia.
“The biggest struggle is not being able to see him up and moving,” she told us, choking back tears. “My mom takes care of him 24/7. Their plan for retirement is not what it should have been. They should be out traveling right now but because of his condition they can’t. And just knowing what the future looks like, it’s hard. That’s why we are walking today.”
More than 550 participants and 80 teams dressed in purple followed a one-mile walk around the square or a three-mile route around town.
The event raised more than $116,000 for research toward treatment, prevention, and hopefully a cure. Events coordinator Kelsey Ott said the goal is raise $184,000 by the end of the year.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.