ANDOVER — Thousands turned out for the 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer’s Sunday morning at Brickstone Square, to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association and awareness for the disease, which has no cure.
More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, while as many as 16 million will have the disease by 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. With these statistics, organizers believe that now more than ever is the time to end the stigma, offer care and support for families affected, and hopefully find a cure for the future.
“Participating in the walk is just one way to help,” said Ella Schwotzer, public relations manager for the Massachusetts/New Hampshire chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “Alzheimer’s disease can be a really difficult disease for families to deal with and I feel most of the families that have walked have said how empowering it is and that they feel less alone because of how isolating the disease can be.”
The Massachusetts/New Hampshire chapter has raised nearly $490,000 thus far, with over 2,500 people participating in Sunday’s walk.
“Last year we mobilized 22,000 people,” said Schwotzer. “The Massachusetts/New Hampshire chapter completes 12 walks in two weeks in the fall.”
Families large and small gathered, all sporting purple T-shirts, the official color of the Alzheimer’s organization. Each participant held a different color pinwheel flower — blue for someone who is living with Alzheimer’s disease, purple for someone who lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s disease, orange for a supporter of the organization, and yellow for someone who is caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
“This year, we have a single white flower,” said CEO of the Massachusetts/New Hampshire chapter James Wessler. “It’s for the first person who is cured of Alzheimer’s, which one day we hope we will have.”