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More than 400 join Eastern Panhandle Walk to End Alzheimer’s

By Staff | Oct 4, 2019

From left, volunteers Benita Hardy, Belinda Hallam and Christina Black, check in walkers at the annual Walk to End Alzheimer's at Martinsburg High School on Saturday morning. Toni Milbourne

MARTINSBURG — Martinsburg High School was the starting point for the 2019 Walk to end Alzheimer’s that took place on Saturday. A sea of purple shirts could be seen in the bleachers of Bulldog Stadium prior to the start of the two-mile hike through the side streets of the town.

Held annually in more than 600 communities across the country, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care and research.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association website, between 2000 and 2017, deaths from Alzheimer’s have increased 145 percent, making it the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Statistics show that more than five million Americans are living with the disease, while 16 million serve as caregivers of people living with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia.

The annual walk in Martinsburg, held every September, encourages local individuals to contribute to finding a cure.

Ninety-seven teams participated in this year’s walk, with the goal of raising $115,000. As of start time Saturday morning, a total of $72,000 had been raised, although donations may still be made to help meet that goal.

Members of the team, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, wait for additional friends and family members to join them for the start of the Walk to End Alzheimer's at Martinsburg High School on Saturday morning. Toni Milbourne

Co-organizer Erin Morris told walkers that they would each get a Promise Garden flower in the color that best represents the walker’s connection to the disease.

“Orange flowers are for those who support the cause,” Morris said as individuals walked forward to show each color. “Purple is to honor someone has lost the battle and yellow is for those who support or care for someone with Alzheimer’s,” Morris continued. Blue flowers in the crowd were held by those battling the disease or other dementia.

The final flower Morris referenced was the white flower, held by a young girl.

“This special flower is to be added to the garden as the first survivor of Alzheimer’s,” she said.

Se Nichols also spoke to the walkers, sharing her experience with Alzheimer’s. Nichols said her earliest memory was of her grandmother.

“She was diagnosed in 2004 and later entered an in-care facility where she eventually was unable to walk, speak or communicate,” Nichols said. “My research on this disease led me to the Alzheimer’s Association and gave me hope.

  • “I walk for my Grammy. She is the one who drives my passion,” Nichols said.

Others walked in honor or memory of friends and family members.

Of the 97 teams registered, the team who raised the most was Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Members shared they walked in honor of their dad, and had cousins and other family members travel from Pennsylvania, Florida and Maryland to join in the walk. The team, as of the start of Saturday’s walk, had raised $12,468.

Many businesses helped sponsor the walk, including the top sponsor, Edward Jones. Speaking on behalf of the company was Charles Town office’s John Williams.

“We want to make a difference in people’s lives,” Williams said. “We recognize the devastating effect this disease has on our community’s families and Edward Jones will continue to help in the fight until there is a cure.”

For more information, visit alz.org.