Hundreds joined together to support loved ones at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Leia Obloy, 2, of the Rebel Legion, dressed as Star Wars character, Rey, carries a purple flower for a relative she lost to Alzheimer's as she attends the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer's event held at Bridgeport Park in Valencia on Saturday, October 06, 2018. (Photo by Dan Watson)
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Santa Clarita families showed love and support as they took part in the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Bridgeport Park on Saturday.

Over 700 people joined in setting up 93 different teams, consisting of families, businesses, Cub Scout packs, caregiving centers and other local collectives participating in the walk, all of which contributed money to Alzheimer’s Association’s cause.

“We got this really great community,” said Rick Ferrante, chair of the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s. “There’s a lot of people that you can talk a lot about supporting causes and different things, but it’s tough when you have to actually do it, come up, spend the money, the time, come out here and the effort.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 60 percent to 80 percent of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association website. An infographic from the website states that the nationwide cost of Alzheimer’s and other dementias is $277 billion in 2018, potentially rising to $1.1 trillion by 2050.

Attendees hold up purple colored flowers indicating they have lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s and their supprt to ending the disease during the Promise Garden ceremony at the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s event held at Bridgeport Park in Valencia on Saturday, October 06, 2018. (Photo by Dan Watson)

Saturday’s walk helped the Alzheimer’s Association reach it’s $2 million goal, with the proceeds going toward local programs that the local California Southland chapter serves, including care and support programs, support groups, online educational programs and advocacy, according to Breena Gold, executive director of the local chapter.

“The two big things that we’re trying to do is get money for resources and programs, the things the Alzheimer’s Association does for the people who are dealing with the disease today,” Ferrante said. “And then secondly, just as important, is funding for research to find a cure. At the end of the day, we don’t have to do any of this if we can cure this thing, this horrible, really devastating disease. And if we can find a cure, then we don’t need all the rest of it.”

One team, Abuelita Rosa, consisted of around 20 family members running in memory of Rosa Serna. Jerry Ibanez is her grandson.

“We’re here in memory of my grandmother, who passed away from Alzheimer’s last November,” he said. “A lot of the family came together and we thought this was a good way to contribute to the cause, the cure and also to remember my grandmother at the same time.”

Ibanez was accompanied by cousins, sisters, aunts, uncles, his wife and his children. Ages varied from 6 months to 72 years old.

“It feels good, it feels good,” he said. “It feels like she was there. It feels good.”

A storm trooper, left, from the 501 Legion of Star Wars characters high-fives Cain Castillo, 5, as he participates in the 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s event held at Bridgeport Park in Valencia on Saturday, October 06, 2018. (Photo by Dan Watson)

Another team, called Walk for Barb, also consisted of 20 teammates made up of family members. Brad Ross’ wife, Barbara, was diagnosed with early onset dementia a year and a half ago, leading to their daughter Annie to help get the team set up.

“So we wanted to be sure to do this for her, and it’s pretty amazing,” he said. “You don’t think you’re going to have someone – she’s only 65. It’s difficult enough for me but it’s especially difficult for the family. It was good to do this. Glad we came out here, and my feet don’t hurt.”

Three more Walks to End Alzheimer’s are scheduled for the rest of the year, in Long Beach on Oct. 13, at Pasadena City College on Oct. 28 and at the Los Angeles Zoo on Nov. 3.

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