We Walk For A Cure

ST. JOHNSBURY - More than six million people, including thirteen thousand in the state of Vermont suffer from Alzhimers disease. As numbers of this illness continue to grow, Vermont once again shows its support to find a cure.

Residents, visitors, and members of the community gathered in the middle of St. Johnsbury to walk for a cure to end Alzheimer's disease on Sunday morning. This year there were over two hundred participants, and over fifty seven thousand dollars raised for the Alzheimer's association. This is a long standing tradition in the Northeast Kingdom. For people who attend the event, this is not their first time walking.

"We're here to celebrate, we're here to raise funds. We're here to spread awareness all in the name of Alzheimer's disease," Alzheimer's Association Executive Director Howard Goodrow explains. The event was hosted by the Alzheimer's Association and they do four different events in the state of Vermont during the Month of September-October.

Upon arrival walkers take a pinwheel flower that represents their situation, and every flower has a different meaning. Carrying a purple flower means you lost someone to the disease. Holding a yellow flower means you are a caregiver. Traveling with the blue flower means you are living with Alzheimer's. Carrying an orange flower means you support the Alzheimer's Association. "There's one flower that you don't actually see, it's a white flower. There is only one of them and that represents the first survivor of Alzheimer's," Goodrow said.

This event usually attracts over three hundred people to the area. For most people, walking and fundraising for this event is very personal for them as they have a family member or a friend that suffers from this disease. "It's a combination of folks, people who are interested in supporting the cause. There are people dealing with this disease personally. There are caregivers that are coming. There are a lot of people in the medical field who like to join us," Goodrow explained.

Helen Wilson is a caregiver, and she says that her mother in law passed away with Alzheimer's disease. Now her father is developing early Alzheimer's. Wilson says this disease can make things very difficult for caregivers. When her mother in law got sick, Wilson and her sister in law would take turns taking care of her. With her father, the situation has been more difficult because she says he just wants to be independent. "It can be a bit like having a toddler you know? Don't turn your back, they might not be able to get up and sit on the edge of the bed when you want them to. If you're in the next room you might hear a thump because they tried it on their own and it's just so frustrating," Wilson explains.

Sheila Vaughan says she has been living with her mothers illness for a long time, along with her other sisters. They brought their mother along for the walk, and despite their current situation her mother has been very positive through it all. "My mom remembers most of our names at times, but she also remembers her mom very well. She thinks that her mom visits her pretty much on a daily basis."

Maryelen and her husband Nate attended the event. She says her husband has been living with dementia for 18 years. When covid hit, she needed a little extra help. Now they are living apart while Nate stays in assisted living, she says she walks for him. "All these programs that they take them to, is it easy? No, but it's okay, and you're safe and you're happy most of the time. So that's my story, that's our story."

The additional money raised on the day of the event has not been tallied up yet, the association should know in a couple days how much was raised in all. All proceeds will go to efforts being made to end this disease. If you wish to contribute and make a donation you can visit act.alz.org.