Troy Middle School will be flooded with purple on Oct. 12 during the annual Walk To End Alzheimer’s as caregivers, family members and those battling the disease stretch their legs.
Last year, the walk was cold, but successful.
“I thought it was a great event,” said walk organizer Mary Williams. “The people, the community that comes together that day, they’re amazing.”
This year will be the fourth iteration of the walk in Lincoln County.
Williams said she’s lived in the area for 28 years, and has volunteered for the Alzheimer’s Association for a long time as well. For quite some time, Williams said she’s wanted a local Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Lincoln County.
“I’ve been pushing for a while, and the community has just responded greatly,” Williams said.
The walk raised over $47,000 in 2018, and the goal for 2019 is set at $48,000.
The ceremony starts at 9:30 a.m., where participants are given flowers of various colors, which all hold some different meaning. The walkers get one flower to hold, and another to plant in a promise garden ceremony.
“If someone is carrying a purple flower, it means that they have lost somebody to Alzheimer’s,” Williams said. “If they are carrying a yellow flower, it means that they are a caregiver or have been a caregiver. If they are carrying a blue flower, that means they have Alzheimer’s or dementia, and then if they are carrying an orange flower, they do not have a personal connection to the disease, but they are a supporter.”
Most of the flowers are purple, Williams said.
Mikal Bencomo has seen Alzheimer’s at work both in her family, with her grandfather’s dementia, and during her job at Heartland Hospice.
“I go to hospitals and clinics and nursing homes, and it’s everywhere,” Bencomo said. “And people don’t even realize it, just how much it is around us.”
Recognition, she added, is the first hurdle for many families who have a loved one dealing with the disease, and not just hand-waving warning signs away as “being forgetful.”
“Being forgetful is one thing,” Bencomo said. “Locking your keys in your car, that’s forgetful. Misplacing your keys, that’s forgetful. Not knowing that you’re looking for your keys, that’s a completely separate thing.”
Forgetfulness is part of being alive, Bencomo said, but Alzheimer’s actually causes brain cells to degenerate and die, so “the part that tells you to wave your hand, that is no longer there.”
Coming up with a care plan is the second hurdle, and one of the more challenging obstacles when dealing with the disease, since every family is different.
“Everyone has a different opinion as to what mom or dad, grandma and grandpa wanted, or may want,” Bencomo said. “And the truth of it is, it’s got to be what’s best for that individual, so the proper level of care needs to be established.”
Bencomo has been involved with the local Alzheimer’s Walk for about two years as the marketing chair, and said the upcoming Oct. 12 event has two big benefits: The money raised, but also the awareness spread regarding the disease.
“The walk is definitely an opportunity to do that, the more people who know, the better,” Bencomo said.
Registration for the walk starts at 8:30 a.m., the ceremony starts at 9:30 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m., all at Troy Middle School, 713 West College Street. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/groups/LincolnCountyWalktoEndAlzheimers.