The University of Mary Washington’s second annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s succeeded in bringing a higher participation rate.
On Sept. 29 the Community Outreach and Resources (COAR) planned this year’s Alzheimer’s Walk, which is a part of COAR’s annual “Into the Streets” day of service.
Kicking off the opening speech at 10 a.m. in front of Jefferson Square, UMW President Rick Hurley touched on a personal experience.
Uniting the community, the walk brought together families, friends, co-workers, social and religious groups. Director of Service, Christina Eggenberger, was happy to see the excitement and feel the upbeat atmosphere of the Walk.
“The event was a great way for UMW and the Fredericksburg community to grow together as a community,” said Eggenberger. “There were community members and students involved in all aspects.”
Alzheimer’s disease is the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death in America. Today, there is no way to prevent, cure or even slow its progression, according to the Alzheimer’s Website.
Showing their support in walking to end Alzheimer’s, junior sociology major Kimmy Slater expressed the emotional affect Alzheimer’s can have on someone.
“I know what this disease does to families. The pain of waking up one morning and having your parent or grandparent not know who you are has got to be a horrible feeling,” said Slater. “Anything I can do to help, I’ll do.”
According to Eggenberger, UMW gathered 765 walkers, including 24 UMW students. Last year, the walk had 660 participants.
“I would like to see the partnership continue,” said Eggenberger. “UMW can serve as a great community and it exposes our students to a host of ways to get involved and become engaged with citizens.”
Senior geology and geography major Meagan Holbrook was pleased with the community support.
“The Walk brought everyone together for a common cause,” said Holbrook. “A lot of people were involved; it was an amazing turn out.”
As participants began their walk, volunteers worked on the “Promise Garden,” consisting of large wind-driven flowers where participants could write the names of past or present Alzheimer’s sufferers. Sophomore sociology major Sarah Arnold viewed the garden as a magical moment.
“My favorite part was helping plant the memory garden while the walkers were on their first lap,” said Arnold. “Each flower represented the reason the team members were walking.”
Supporting the Walk participants with cheers and encouraging signs, junior English major Elizabeth Harvey loved the moment when walkers began to cross the finish line into the garden of spinning flowers.
“My favorite part was putting everybody’s pin-wheel flower in the garden creating the garden of hope,” said Harvey.
“The garden is memorable,” said Slater, as she helped prepare it with the help of other COAR staff volunteers.
“The flower garden turned out really nicely,” stated Slater. “I believe it made an impact.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, fundraising helps move towards the mission-related initiatives of care, support and research. However, their actions, both through fundraising and participating in the event, helped to change the level of Alzheimer’s awareness in the UMW community.
Image courtesy of Kerri Williams, Magpi Studios.