‘Our fight to win’: More than 1,000 gather for Walk to End Alzheimer’s

More than 1,500 people came together Saturday morning as Columbia’s annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s moved to Spirit Communications Park for the first time.

“There is not a soul in this stadium who has not somehow been touched by Alzheimer’s,” Joe Pinner said. Pinner shared the emcee duties with Judi Gatson, and University of South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley threw a ceremonial first pitch.

About 1,500 people gathered Saturday for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Spirit Communications Park. (Photo by Allen Wallace)

Most of the walkers wore purple, the color chosen by the Alzheimer’s Association as part of its efforts to raise awareness of the disease. They included people suffering from Alzheimer’s, caregivers and friends and family of current patients and those already lost to the disease.

Sandra Hudson’s mother died of Alzheimer’s six years ago, and Hudson walks each year in her memory.

“Mom was a strong woman. We didn’t realize when she was diagnosed how destructive this disease could be,” Hudson said. “It was very difficult to go see this proud distinguished woman [when she was ill]. We lost her long before she was gone.”

Hudson said her father, married to her mother more than 60 years, slept in a chair in the doorway of their bedroom when her mother, suffering from dementia, started to wander at night. Hudson said she walks in hopes that “a loved one or a family won’t have to go through what we went through.”

Participants in the walk raised money for the Alzheimer’s Association, money which will go toward research for a cure and resources for current patients and caregivers. The total raised surpassed $140,000 Saturday, and donations made through the end of November will be added to that.

Participants carried plastic flowers, with colors symbolizing their reasons for walking. Gatson explained the meaning of the symbols before the walk, as Dan Holmes, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, held his blue flower high from his wheelchair.

“These flowers are our reasons to end Alzheimer’s,” Gatson said. “And this is our fight to win.”

More information on the Alzheimer’s Association, including the free resources it offers for caregivers, is available online.

Categories: Columbia, Local News