HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Residents across the Pioneer Valley joined the fight to end Alzheimer’s disease at the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Sunday.

The walk is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer`s care, support, and research. This is a disease that not only causes memory loss but claims many lives, especially those that are age 65 and older.

Julie Rivers a Volunteer, and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Co-Chair had lost her mother to Alzheimer’s, “It’s not curable as of now, so the end goal is to have a world without Alzheimer’s disease. It really is a devastating illness, it robs people of their ability to communicate and to function really in the world.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than six million Americans of all ages have the disease, and about 6.7 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s in 2023.

Stephen Labonte of Chicopee came to the walk to honor some of his family members, he told 22News this disease needs to be put to an end, “We need to bring it to an end and there are more and more people getting it. It’s not just so hard for the patients but for the caretakers. It’s very demanding and it’s tough to go through.”

For those who joined the fight against Alzheimer’s, the poignant Promise Garden ceremony for the walk on Sunday, which is a mission-focused experience that signifies our solidarity in the fight against the disease, began at 9:45 a.m. and the walk kicked off at 10 a.m. at Holyoke Community College.

Walkers during the ceremony carried flowers of various colors that represent their personal connection to the disease, according to a news release from the Alzheimer’s Association.

The total fundraising goal for the Sunday walk is $220,000. These funds can help people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s in the future, and help people learn more about symptoms, risk factors, and available resources.

Patrick Barry from Mass Appeal was an emcee at this event.

Local News

Kiara Smith is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since March 2023. Follow Kiara on X @KiaraBSmith1 and view her bio to see more of her work.