BRATTLEBORO - The annual Walk to End Alzheimer's will be held this Saturday, Sept. 8, starting at the Brattleboro Retreat on Anna Marsh Lane.
Registration opens at 9:30 a.m., with the walk starting at 10:30.
The walk in Brattleboro Saturday is part of a nationwide education campaign during September, which includes five other walks in Vermont, and in more than 600 communities across the U.S.
This weekend, and over the next few weeks, walks are also scheduled in Rutland, St. Albans, St. Johnsbury, Bennington and Shelburne.
"This is the most important event we have that lets people know about our work and the resources we have available," said Maggie Lewis, who lives in Brattleboro and is the director of programs and services for the Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. "It's an important fundraiser but it also brings awareness to the disease and to the work we do."
The Brattleboro walk will feature a one and two mile walk, and a shorter walk around the Retreat campus.
About 90 people are expected to come out Saturday.
The Brattleboro chapter also has an exhibit with resources at Brooks Memorial Library, which will be up throughout the month.
The Walk to End Alzheimer's is the nation's largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's care, support and research. The first Memory Walk was held in 1989, with nine Alzheimer's Association chapters raising $149,000 from the approximately
By 1993 it had turned into a nationwide event which raised $4.5 million. Last year more than 39,000 teams in 650 walks across the country raised more than $47.2 million.
Lewis said her mother is living with Alzheimer's and her father died from it.
She said the walk Saturday brings together family members who can share stories and get support.
"It's a chance to connect with people," she said. "We have a lot of support groups throughout the year and the walk is a place to make connections."
Joany Simonds, marketing and development coordinator for the Vermont chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, said along with bringing in funds, the walks are important events for bringing awareness to the disease, which is the sixth leading cause of death in this county.
"There are walks going on all across the country in September and October," Simonds said. "This disease impacts so many people and the walks give people an opportunity to take action."
During the walk Saturday people will share stories about family members who suffered through Alzheimer's.
Simonds said one of the Alzheimer's Association's most important responsibilities is supporting families and connecting care givers with others who have been helping their own families.
"Everyone knows someone who is being impacted by Alzheimer's," said Simonds. "At the walk we honor the lives of those we have lost. It is a very powerful experience to hear those stories."
The annual Walk to End Alzheimer's has been held in Brattleboro for five years, and every year it has grown larger.
Holding an annual event brings the disease into the public eye, Simonds said, and gets people talking about it.
As the Baby Boom generation ages more people will be confronting the illness and Simonds said the she hopes the walk makes it easier for people to talk about their experiences and the impact it has on their lives.
"There is still a stigma around this disease, and misconceptions. This is not a normal part of aging," said Simonds. "Coming out shows that we are not going to stand for this and we want to do something about it."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com or at 802-254-2311 ext. 279.