The Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease took place at Delaware Park today (Saturday, September 16, 2017).
My dad has Alzheimer’s Disease.
My amazing, loving, caring, generous, wonderful, hilarious, life-of-every-party, always-there-when-you-need-him, my rock, best friend, confidant and overall amazing dad – has this wretched monster of a disease.
Of course, he’s not alone. More than 5 million Americans are living with the disease. There’s no known cure. Nothing to prevent it. Or slow it. Or stop it. Nothing to change it.
Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.
Today, the show of support, love, and generosity was shining brightly in Delaware Park. 3021 people showed up to walk.
For their mom. Their dad. Their grandmother or grandfather. An aunt, uncle, cousin, brother, sister, neighbor, friend – co-worker. For all different reasons.
It was an amazing turnout.
I just kept thinking – all of these people have this special person in their life – who may or may not even recognize them anymore. All of these people are so sad because it’s not fair.
This disease terrorizes families.
It’s difficult because you feel so helpless.
When I visit my dad, and watch him struggle to remember something, watch him get frustrated and mad or sad that he can’t remember – it’s tough. When I visit my dad and he doesn’t know who I am – it’s tough. When I talk to him on the phone and he’s talking like it’s 1965 – it’s tough.
Tough to watch what it does. Tough because despite Alzheimer’s – I still see my dad’s spirit. He can still make me laugh so hard my stomach hurts. He can still tease me about secrets he’s kept for me all these years. He can make my girls smile.
And then he’s not.
Today – we spent time with thousands of other people who know all about it. Who live or have lived with it. Their shirts told their story.
And together, all of the folks we were with – and many others – are working to do something about it.
Today’s walk – raised $370,610.89
I was so happy to be there. So happy that my niece, Jamie put our team together. So happy that my sister came from Florida to walk with us.
Because together is the only way to fight this monster. The only way to make a difference is to work together. To know your not alone. To know that so many others are with you. Walking. Running. Supporting. Praying.
For my dad.
And all those other dads. And moms. And grandparents. And sisters and brother, aunts and uncles, friends, and co-workers.
Together, we can make a difference.
If you have a loved one facing this terrible disease and need help, the Alzheimer’s Association can help. If you’d like to make a donation to make a difference, you can do that there, too. Visit alz.org/wny.