Downtown Annapolis became a garden on Sunday. Susan Campbell Park transformed into a sea of about 1,100 purple-wearing people, with yellow, blue, orange and purple windmill flowers spinning in the breeze before the Anne Arundel County Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
In Maryland, more than $1 billion in Medicaid funding has been spent caring for people with Alzheimer’s this year, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The association also says 100,000 Marylanders are among the 5 million Americans over 65 years old living with Alzheimer’s this year.
Cindy Brown wants people to know Alzheimer’s affects those below 65 as well. She celebrated her 22nd wedding anniversary with her husband, Tim, by coming from Carroll County to the walk on Sunday. Tim was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s two years ago at 50 years old, but Cindy says it took two years to get a diagnosis from doctors because of his age. The Brown’s team, Pat’s Posse, was one of the top five fundraising teams for Anne Arundel County.
“Nobody wants to believe it hits younger people,” she said. “It’s a young person’s disease too.”
Yellow windmill flowers were held by those acting as caregivers to Alzheimer’s patients, like Cindy and Tim’s 15-year-old son, Patrick. Purple flowers were held by those who lost loved ones to the disease, like 86-year-old Marguerite Suite, who watched her family walk in her late husband’s honor. Orange flowers were held by supporters, including members of teams like the 110 women who walked and raised almost $7,000 with University of Maryland’s Beta Zeta chapter of the Sigma Kappa sorority.
A white flower was held for the first time this year to represent hope for the first Alzheimer’s survivor.
Along with Tim Brown, Kevin Kramer and a few other members of the crowd held blue flowers for those diagnosed with the disease. Kramer has been living with early onset Alzheimer’s for about four years, and was joined at the walk by his daughter, Jamie Trevillian, who is Mrs. Maryland America. Trevillian donated and raised $500 for the association through their team, Memories Matter.
“We’re fighting against this horrible disease that doesn’t have an effective treatment or a cure, and we’re here to end that,” Trevillian said.
Bob Uhl walked this year for the second time in honor of his mother-in-law, who died from Alzheimer’s two years ago.
“It was three days before her 98th birthday,” he recalled. “Every time I saw her, I held her hand and said the Lord’s Prayer, hoping it would reach her.”
The 10th annual walk in Anne Arundel County is one of six walks around the state, with the Greater Baltimore event coming up on Oct. 28. About $167,000 was raised on Sunday, and event organizer Dawn Lewis says the association hopes to reach their goal of $220,000 by the Nov. 30 deadline.
“Seeing everybody come out and share stories of what they go through on a day-to-day basis, I could see the relief in some people’s faces,” she said. “Alzheimer’s effects everyone so differently, so everyone’s story is a little different. But to be able to look around and see so many people going through the same thing, I could see them thinking, ‘It’s not just me.’”