Walking for a cure
Well, I did it. I kept one of my new year’s resolutions. I participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Sept. 23 at Mauch Chunk Lake. I joined the established group The Forget-Me-Knots, but many other people walked on their own or formed small groups.
This was the first time I ever participated in a fundraising walk. Sure I’ve been to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life before. I covered it as a reporter years ago, but I never was a walker. This time I took the leap, well, I suppose it was really just a baby step. The Alzheimer’s Association has the process well mapped out and makes it very simple to get the word out to family and friends about what you’re doing.
The day of the walk, I arrived at the park, found a parking spot and headed to find the other members of the group. I had no idea I’d be fighting back tears before long.
At the meeting pavilion, a large banner with pictures of those who have passed from this disease hung from the posts. It reminded me of my mother, who passed away from Alzheimer’s Disease in 2009.
I walked to the Promise Garden to get a purple flower, which held petals made from parachute fabric that would catch the breeze and spin. Purple is for those of us who have lost someone to this disease.
I plucked my flower from the sandy beach volleyball court. I was there for my mom. I had placed her picture on my donation page. I couldn’t save her; my dad couldn’t save her, although he tried, but maybe by walking, all of us in time can help the researchers find a way to save someone else’s mom.
Before we stepped off onto the path, one person representing each flower was asked to share their story. I wrote mine, but I couldn’t speak it. Eight years later, and the pain is still there.
I prayed, “O Lord, please don’t let me cry in public.”
A lady stood beside me holding a blue flower. She had plans to tell the crowd her story. I asked her what blue stands for.
“Dementia,” she said. “I have dementia.”
Speechless. I was speechless.
Valerie said she has Lyme Disease and the infection had attacked brain tissue, causing her to develop dementia. She didn’t speak as if she was a victim, but instead more like she wants to be a conqueror. Her mental strength and determination to find a way through this, to eliminate it, to cure it were inspiring. I walked the whole 2 miles with her and never shed a tear. It was a fantastic conversation, an answered prayer.
There are three other colors that are part of the flower garden: orange, yellow and white.
Orange is for everyone who supports the cause to conquer the disease, yellow is for the caregivers, and a single white flower represents the goal of one day having that first person with Alzheimer’s Disease who is cured.