More than 600 walkers assembled at Santa Barbara’s waterfront Saturday morning to join the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease by raising $140,000.
The large-scale fundraiser, presented by the Alzheimer’s Association, Central Coast Chapter, brought together families, residents, local organizations and businesses to raise awareness and funds to end Alzheimer’s, a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate and die.
Money raised at the Santa Barbara walk will fund the care for patients, support services and research programs for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Many purple-clad participants joined in memory of their loved ones who died from the disease or to pay tribute to those fighting Alzheimer’s.
The walk provided Rhonda Henderson, event chairwoman and Central Coast board member, an opportunity to honor her grandmother — who she lost to the disease — and her grandfather, who has been diagnosed with dementia.
“This is personal to me,” she said. “I truly believe together we can end Alzheimer’s, and I can tell by looking out into this beautiful sea of purple that I am not alone.”
More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s in the United States, Henderson said.
Participants walked along Cabrillo Boulevard, starting at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort.
Before starting the three-mile route, residents honored those affected by Alzheimer’s disease with Promise Flowers during a special ceremony at the hotel. It was a display of hope to represent the personal reasons participants join together to fight the disorder.
Walkers held artificial flowers to symbolize how they have been affected by the disease.
Blue represents individuals living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Orange is for people who support the vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.
Purple represents those who have lost a loved one to the disease.
Yellow is a person caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.
(Brooke Holland / Noozhawk video)
Assemblywoman Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, held a white flower, representing a vision of hope. She has raised public awareness about the early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Her grandmother died of Alzheimer’s in March, she told the crowd.
“After a decade of our family going from noticing some things that weren’t working well for my grandmother to providing gentle reminders to providing 24-hour care around the clock,” Limón said. “I share with you the struggle of what it means to love someone so dearly, and be there for them as they are going through this journey with Alzheimer’s disease.”
About 650,000 Californians have been diagnosed with the disease, she said.
“Half affected don’t know they have Alzheimer’s,” she said, adding, “Early detection matters, and we cannot reverse the signs of Alzheimer’s, but we can detect early and provide support for families and those affected.”
Alzheimer’s is the second leading cause of death in California, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Every 65 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s.
“As the disease continues to grow, the cost of caregiving is escalating into the hundreds of billions (of dollars), and taking millions of loved ones from us,” Henderson said. “Alzheimer’s is destroying our families and our future, and it’s time to end it.”
Santa Barbara police officers, the Santa Barbara Zoo, cheerleaders from area high schools, the Boy Scouts and Santa Barbara Hot Rod Limo joined Saturday’s event.
— Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.