MASON CITY — Thousands of Iowans will soon be taking short walks to remember the long lives of their loved ones who’ve been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease, including next weekend in Mason City.
Lauren Livingston, spokeswoman for the Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, says there are Walks to End Alzheimer’s planned in 19 Iowa communities over the next several weeks.
“You can register, there’s some vendor tables you can stop at, we have a short opening ceremony and our Promise Garden ceremony, which is really touching for the families to raise their flowers to represent why they are walking and then we do the walk,” Livingston says. “It’s only a mile long, so it’s pretty quick.”
It’s estimated there are 66,000 Iowans living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and another 98,000 Iowans are their caregivers. The walks are a time for all parties to come together, support each other, and to raise awareness — and funds.
“The fundraising goal for our walks this year is about $1.5 million,” Livingston says. “We have reached that before, so hopefully we can do it again this year. It will be huge to be able to put that money towards research for finding new treatments and prevention, and also resources for local families.”
Medical advances in recent months have offered much encouragement for people in the early stages of dementia. The treatments are proving effective at slowing the progress of Alzheimer’s, but a cure is still elusive.
“They are huge steps,” Livingston says. “Especially in the last 20 years, there really hasn’t been a whole lot of hope or other treatments available, so these are really pushing us forward. There’s a lot more funding going into Alzheimer’s research now than there ever has been, so we’re closer than ever to that cure, and the treatments that have been coming out just keep getting better and better.”
The first walk in Iowa this fall is scheduled for Mason City on September 10th, with more to follow in: Ottumwa, Panora, Decorah, Harlan, Cedar Falls, Clinton, Council Bluffs, Iowa City, Spencer, Muscatine, Des Moines, Sioux City, Dubuque, Fort Dodge, the Quad Cities, Ames, Burlington and Cedar Rapids. Learn more and register for an event near you at: alz.org/iowawalks.