The annual Walk to End Alzheimer's will take place in Aiken next week.
The Alzheimer's Association holds the walk nationally each year to raise funds and awareness about Alzheimer's and dementia. The Aiken walk will take place rain or shine at H. Odell Weeks Activities Center on Saturday, Oct. 12.
On Tuesday, Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon delivered a proclamation to local health care professionals, advocates and Alzheimer's Association members honoring the upcoming walk and stating Osbon's and Aiken City Council's support of the walk's initiative.
Osbon himself has a personal connection to the walk this year. He will be the honorary chair of the walk in memory of his friends, John and June Cannon, who he lost to the disease.
"John had this disease and was taken by it," Osbon said. "June (his wife) was an exemplary caregiver for him, but she also became an advocate for caregivers through that process."
Osbon said it was "amazing" to watch June use her experiences to help others who were also caring for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer's. Then, shortly after her husband died, June was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
Osbon said he was participating in the walk in the Cannons' honor.
Among those present (all wearing purple, the color of Alzheimer's awareness) was psychiatric therapist Leslie Addison, this year's chairperson of the walk.
"I believe that Aiken is really supportive of our mission, which is to bring awareness and research to Alzheimer's and the dementias that it involves," Addison said. "So Aiken ... is saying, 'We stand behind the walk. We encourage people to be involved in the walk and we support this cause.'"
According to the proclamation, over 500 people are expected to attend.
"Most of the proceeds that go to the walk stay here in Aiken," said Cathy Walker, hospice community educator at Trinity Home, Health and Hospice Services. "They stay locally to help caregivers with grants in the area, support groups and patients that are battling Alzheimer's. It brings the community together not only to raise funds but to raise awareness for the disease."
Registration for the walk begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12 at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center. Registration can also be done prior to the event online at alz.org/walk.
At 9:45 a.m. during the event, there will be a Promise Garden Ceremony. Each registered walker will receive a flower, with different colors representing different connections to the disease.
The walk is a 2-mile circuit at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center. All walkers must register. There is no cost to do so, but donations to the Alzheimer's Association are encouraged.
Strollers and leashed, well-trained dogs are allowed during the walk.
In the case of severe weather, the walk may be canceled.
For more info, visit atz.alc.org.