On a stage in front of a crowd of over 600, blue, yellow, orange, purple and white pinwheel flowers rose to the sky.
A blue flower held by Riitta Clark, to represent her own battle living with Alzheimer’s disease.
A yellow flower held by Richard Wade, symbolizing his support for those living with Alzheimer’s disease.
A orange flower, held by Karen Kerrigan to show her support for the cause.
A purple flower, held by Oscar Dominguez in honor of a loved one lost to Alzheimer’s disease.
A white flower, held by 6-year-old Rylee Caprine as a beacon of hope for the future of survivors and a future full of cures and treatments for those battling Alzheimer’s disease.
“These flowers have a lot of fight in them,” said Kristi Eckard, the 2023 chairman of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
Six hundred attendees tied their laces for the 2023 Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday morning. The 2-mile walk in Bridgeport Park served as a fundraiser for research to expedite the end of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our work is far from over,” said Brian Koegle.
According to Koegle, 6.5 million people in the United States are battling Alzheimer’s disease and 11 million people are serving are as unpaid caretakers.
The promise garden served as a reminder of these numbers.
“In loving memory of Grandma,” “forever in our hearts” were some of the phrases written on the petals of the flowers.
Eckard took to the stage to share her personal story.
“The fight against Alzheimer’s is very personal for me. I lost my grandmother and my aunt to Alzheimer’s. My aunt was the smartest and wittiest person I ever knew. She was a doctor of speech pathology, so when she started having symptoms of aphasia and she couldn’t get her words out, it was a very cruel irony,” said Eckard as she began to get choked up. “Now, like 6.7 million other people, my father, who is the second smartest and funniest person I’ve known, struggles with Alzheimer’s every day.”
Eckard said that by 2030, 8.5 million are expected to be living with Alzheimer’s disease.
The goal of $155,000 was set with the hope of lowering this number.
“I’m proud of all of you and you should be proud too,” said Eckard, “so keep sharing your stories, keep fundraising, because the awareness and money lead to early detection and research and that, my friends, is going to lead us to a cure.”
At the time of this publication, the 615 walkers who composed together 93 teams raised $156,209.
“What I love most about SCV is how plugged in we are to the needs of others,” said Gavin Espinoza, an instructor at Victory Martial Arts.
All walkers entered through a pathway lined by Saugus, Valencia and West Ranch cheerleaders cheering, “Here we go walkers, here we go!”
Eckard and Caprine made their way to the purple inflatable starting line to lead all the walkers.
“Alzheimer’s is not stopping, so we are not stopping,” said Eckard.
Those interested in donating to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s can do so at tinyurl.com/4f7tf7tb.