A sea of people filled the gyms at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center on Saturday morning, all connected by one idea: "fighting for the first survivor."

Purple shirts each spreading that sentiment were sported by many of the walkers in the 2019 Walk to End Alzheimer's in Aiken.

"Alzheimer's is not going to back down and neither should we," said Cathy Walker, co-event chair for the walk.

"There’s billions of dollars that go into caregiving for Alzheimer's patients every year, and were trying to find a cure so we can help these people not have to live this way," Walker said, "and caregivers don't have to stay at home with them 24/7 and they don't have to go into nursing homes and assisted living."

Walker said people with Alzheimer's suffer from memory loss and cognitive effects, and there is no cure.

"It debilitates people, they forget who they are, forget who their loved ones are, forget how to do simple things like feeding themselves, so it’s a very devastating disease," Walker said.

Mayor Rick Osbon, honorary chairman of the planning committee, read a proclamation, naming Oct. 12, 2019 as Aiken Walk to End Alzheimer's.

The Aiken walk has so far raised $49,000 out of a $60,000 goal. Donations toward that goal will be accepted through Dec. 1 and can be given online at alz.org.

"We raise funds to help with caregivers and … people that have Alzheimer's and that are affected by it," Walker said. "So this event raises money to go toward research caregiver grants that stay locally and then to raise funds for awareness and research to find a cure."

This year was the 11th year the walk has been in Aiken; Walker said the committee is always looking for volunteers.

Lindsey Hodges is a general assignment reporter at the Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star. Follow her on Twitter at @LindseyNHodges.