Alzheimer’s disease is an illness that plagues its victims, as well as their families. With a new victim being diagnosed every 68 seconds, it affects a vast number of those in our nation and it doesn’t have nearly as much awareness as other diseases in the United States. The Georgia Mountain Walk to end Alzheimer’s was held earlier this month in attempt to raise awareness and funding to help finance research to prevent the terrible disease. To date, there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s. Nothing cures it and there is no known drug that slows it down or reverses the effects of the disease. Once a person has it, it progresses and, often hurts the family members more than those that have the disease itself.
This year’s walk had a special guest in attendance. Mr. Jack Fussell attended. Fussell lost his father in June of 2000. With the experience of such a difficult and significant loss to such an emotional disease, Fussell wanted to raise awareness in some way that would capture people’s attention across the nation. He set out from his home in Savannah, GA in a run to Monterey, California. When discussing his experience he said “I learned the value of purpose and persistence” he said. Fessell continued
“I was in New Mexico. It was the third day in heat over a hundred degrees. I was picked up by the highway patrol, taken to a hotel to cool down and rest. I spoke to a friend and told them I was thinking about quitting. At that point, she told me ‘Jack, just change the goal’. At that point, I knew I had to complete my mission to raise awareness.”
After returning from his run, Fessell had dinner with a lady in Cumming, Georgia in an assisted living facility.
“I have never met this lady before but she kept smiling at me and telling me how happy she was to see me again. She would repeat herself about every 5 minutes”
he said. Those dealing with the disease understand that this is a key characteristic for Alzheimer’s.
At the event, advocates were able to purchase flowers. They were a number of various colors. Each color had a meaning significant to the person that made the purchase in order to raise awareness. Blue flowers represented individuals that currently have the disease. Purple flowers were significant because they represent those who have lost someone to the disease. Yellow flowers were displayed for those who are supporting and/or caring for someone with the disease. Orange flowers were for anyone who supported the cause. All of the flowers were placed in a “promise garden” during the event. At the end of the event, each person took their flower home to place in their yard in attempt to raise awareness in a broader sense by spreading the flowers out.
The walk event, in itself, has grown a lot. This is the 6th annual walk. With the walk last year being the most successful, this year had over 100 people attending. With the first walk only having four people attending, the much welcomed growth is significant.
Anyone wishing to keep up with the works of the Georgia Mountain Alzheimer’s Organization may do so by following them on Facebook by clicking here. Fundraising efforts will be continued until November 30th. If you would like to donate to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, you may do so by clicking here to visit the National Alzheimer’s Foundation website.
The 7th annual walk to end Alzheimer’s will take place the first Saturday of October in 2014. FYN hopes to see you there!