ALBERT LEA, Minn. (FOX 47) – Alzheimer’s is something that effects millions of people in America. Currently, there are 5 million Americans living with the disease which is the 6th leading cause of death in the country.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for care, support and research.
The second Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Albert Lea brought out more than 350 people out to Frank Hall Park. The fundraising goal for the event was $48,000. Team Los Ochos walked for their father Jesse Jimenez who passed away from the disease.
“It was a very hard journey and the type of dementia that our dad had was one where his personality would change on a daily basis,” said daughter Jackie Abrego.
“With his memory loss, some day were good and some days were bad,” remembers Jody Bangert. “Sometimes he’d be right on in the beginning and then it just moves into its different stages.”
In addition to the one mile and three mile routes, there was food, music, and a photo booth. The signature part of the event is the promise garden where different colored flowers represent how Alzheimer’s has touched someone. Purple for those who have lost a loved one, yellow for caregivers, orange for advocates and blue for those with the disease.
“To have them be able to come out and see that there’s hope and the everyone else is struggling with different issues the same as they may be, gives everyone inspiration,” said Debbie Eddy, community engagement manager for Alzheimer’s Association.
Eddy says the comradery is the best part of the event. She has experienced the disease first hand which motivates her to put on these walks.
“My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s eight years ago and he passed away two years ago,” Eddy said. “So every day, whether I raise a dollar, five dollars or 500 dollars, that’s my motivation, so someone doesn’t have to miss their father like I miss mine.”
Team Los Ochos raised money is a variety of ways from dinners to yard sales.
“It was just amazing the people in Albert Lea that supported us and other places as well. You come back to our hometown and they just pull it together for you,” said Bangert. “This morning when we looked at our tally, we had raised over $7,000 and our goal was $3,000.”
Dad is looking down and he’s going ‘Those are my kids!'” said Abrego.
Next Saturday, the walk will travel to Red Wing before going to Winona the following week.