Recapping Dubuque’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s at River’s Edge Plaza
It was a picturesque albeit chilly morning at Dubuque's River Edge Plaza on Saturday, October 8th. Hundreds of people gathered for the 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer's, an annual walk predicated on raising money for Alzheimer's research. One day, we might see a cure for the debilitating disease that starts what becomes known as "the long goodbye" to a loved one.
For now, however, all we can do is support an organization trying to eradicate the world of the cognitive disease.
Alzheimer's affects more than six million Americans of all ages alone. Generous donors, such as Willenborg Walkers, Team Kuhle, and Theisen's in Dubuque, contributed thousands of dollars to a great cause. You still can too! Make a safe, secure online donation here!
Dubuque's Walk to End Alzheimer's opened at 8am with registrants ready to hit the trail at 9:30am. I was privileged to be the emcee for the event, doing the announcements for the opening ceremony ahead of the walk itself. It afforded me the opportunity to connect with some friends, meet new ones, and even learn a few things about Alzheimer's.
Just look at some of the statistics, provided by ALZ.org:
- An estimated 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer's in 2022. Seventy-three percent are age 75 or older. About 1 in 9 age 65 and older (10.7%) has Alzheimer's.
- Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women.
- Older Black Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer's or other dementias as older Whites.
- Older Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer's or other dementias as older Whites.
- As the number of older Americans grows rapidly, so too will the number of new and existing cases of Alzheimer's.
- By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s may grow to a projected 12.7 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow, or cure Alzheimer’s disease.
The River's Edge Plaza gazebo provided the ideal setting for walkers and observers to congregate ahead of the 9:30am start-time. The Mississippi River provided a tranquil backdrop once things got underway. Water, coffee, and donuts provided the fuel necessary for participants to get moving (and warm up), and the entire event itself was marked by a palpable sense of enthusiasm.
Ubiquitous around the entire event were colorful "Promise Garden" flowers, each one representing a different connection to Alzheimer's. Blue flowers signify you have Alzheimer's or dementia. Yellow signifies that you are supporting or caring for a loved one. And orange flowers mean you support the cause, even if you don't have a direct connection to the disease.
Special recognition is due to the event's organizers, including Christine Hess, who helped me in emceeing the opening ceremony, and put on a wonderful display of unity and togetherness.
I had never helped host an event like this, so it was a privilege to be amongst an energetic crowd, as well as recognize some stalwart community leaders in their mission to end Alzheimer's.
More than 290 participants and 37 teams made up Dubuque's 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer's, with over $52,000 in donations coming in leading up to/the day of the event. Theisen's alone donated a whopping $80,000 to research in hopes of finding a cure.