Reflections on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Detroit 2014

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A few week’s ago, I was asked to participate in the Detroit 2014 Walk to End Alzheimer’s.  Admittedly, I didn’t know much about this disease but learned so much, not only about Alzheimer’s but also about people of greater Detroit, since then.

Starting a Team

Putting together a team was the most challenging part.  Technically, it was easy to get set up on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s site.  It was a little more difficult to find participants since this walk occurred right towards the end of summer, it conflicted with many of my friend’s travel plans.  Nevertheless, I wrangled in my husband and my brother to walk with me.  They are such good sports, aren’t they?

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Fundraising

After starting a team, the next step is to set your fundraising goals and ask friends, family and colleagues to help support your fundraising efforts.  This is where I started to become surprised.  I was incredibly touched by the support of my friends and family and the personal stories attached.  Some people did donate to support me while others donated in memory of loved ones.  I set a personal goal to raise $200 and easily doubled it through the support of some amazing people.  Some donations came in small increments while others in large.  Every donation, big and small, makes a difference! 

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The Day of the Walk

This is where the most pleasant surprises begin.  On the day of the walk, we entered Ford Field for registration.  The lines went quick and the staff and volunteers were helpful and well organized.  While there were over 2,000 participants there was plenty of space for everyone to visit the displays and participate in the activities available before the walk.

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On Walk day, participants receive a wristband. Each registered walker with a wristband also picks up Promise Garden flower choosing the color that best represents their connection to the disease. 

  • Blue represents someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Purple is for someone who has lost a loved one to the disease.
  • Yellow represents someone who is currently supporting or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.
  • Orange is for everyone who supports the cause and vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.

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Walking the Walk

I’m not exactly sure who I was expecting to see participate in the walk.  In the end the question was really “Who’s NOT participating?”  This was, by far, the most diverse group I’ve ever seen.  There were no boundaries of race, ethnicity, social class or age which made me stop and consider how Alzheimer’s really does effect everybody.

Have you ever wondered what 2,000 people, joining together for a common cause in the streets of Detroit might look like?  It looks something like this:

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 The walk took us through a scenic 2 mile loop through downtown.  Detroit residents and patrons along the route cheered on the walkers showing their support.  Our route concluded on Ford Field with activities for all ages.

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The walk was well organized and, surprisingly, fun.  When the 2015 walk comes, I’d highly recommend starting or joining a team and experience this amazing event for yourself!

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