The 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s was held in Centennial Park on Sept. 22. Senior Chris Vandervat, junior Nick Brogan and sophomores Samantha Yakatis and Leah Reineck had the honor of singing the National Anthem to kick off the event.
“We learned about [the event] two weeks ago,” said Brogan. “We sang the anthem in choir, but we had to switch around a few of the parts. [The event] was cool. Lots of people cared about the cause, and it was a way of giving back to the community.”
The four Mt. Hebron students were given the chance to sing the anthem at the event through Chorus teacher Mr. Christopher Hettenbach.
“I am good friends with the coordinator, and she asked me whether I had any students to sing,” Mr. Hettenbach said.
The Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s is a nationwide walk which happens annually in over 600 communities. This year’s goal in Columbia was to raise $171,000 in order to fund research for a cure to end Alzheimer’s Disease. The event ended up raising over $180,000.
Each year participants join a team, and the teams compete to raise the most money for the cause. At this year’s Columbia Walk to End Alzheimer’s, there were 112 teams and over 1,030 participants supporting the fight for a world without Alzheimer’s.
“I feel that it was a very moving experience,” said Dawn Lewis, the main coordinator of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for Howard County. “We’re making sure it’s not just [for] older people who are affected by the disease and the people who care for them, but [for] the awareness that younger people have with regards to the disease.”
In addition to organizing the event, Lewis is also an employee for the Alzheimer’s Association, a non-profit organization that provides services including support groups and educational seminars to individuals whose family members have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or any other form of dementia.
“I am responsible for building relationships in the community so that people are aware of our services and have a better understanding of the disease itself,” said Lewis.
To organize this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, Lewis formed a committee of volunteers in Howard County. She became involved in the Alzheimer’s Association after she and her best friend worked with seniors both in the assisted living community and with other nonprofit organizations.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s was two miles long and colorfully decorated with pinwheel flowers representing the diverse motives of all the participants at the event. Blue flowers represent a person who has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia; yellow flowers represent a person who is a caretaker of somebody with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia; purple flowers represent people who have lost a loved one due to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia; and orange flowers represent someone who is a supporter of the cause and hopes one day to see a world without Alzheimer’s.