HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The 2022 Pioneer valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s was held Sunday in Holyoke.

Participants in the annual Walk to end Alzheimer’s, which was emceed by 22News Anchor Nick Aresco, gathered at Holyoke Community College, decked out in shades of purple to show solidarity in the battle against this destructive disease.

Residents from Springfield, Holyoke, and surrounding communities came together for the walk against Alzheimer’s, which is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for care, support, and research.

Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior. Its symptoms eventually grow severe enough to interfere with daily tasks… and right now there’s no cure. An estimated 55 million people worldwide are living with dementia. In the United States alone, more than 6 million have Alzheimer’s, and over 11 million are providing unpaid care.

This is where the Alzheimer Association comes in. Its mission is to provide support and education to all those impacted by this disease. 22News spoke with some participants Sunday who both lost a parent to Alzheimer’s.

“I would say that it’s far more complicated than just memory loss and it really robs people’s ability to function in life,” said one participant.

“It’s a disease that effects everybody in one way or the other. It’s something that, it doesn’t matter what age you are. You could be 50, 60, 70, 80. You can get Alzheimer’s or Dementia,” added another.

That’s why they walk and that’s why so many others walk for all those who have lost their battle and for those who continue to fight. In the race for a cure, walks like these help immensely.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, funding raised goes directly toward supporting research, such as medication trials.

“There’s a lot of work on biomarkers too because we want to be able to detect this disease early. Some promising work on blood tests,” said Jim Wessler, CEO of the MA/NH Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “We’re not quite there, but there are a number of those that are moving forward in clinical trials.”

At least 1,500 participants were expected to attend, with a total fundraising goal of $249,000. Former 22News anchor Barry Kriger was also honored at the walk. Kriger had been a longtime emcee and host for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and on Sunday he was recognized for his contribution to the cause. Barry was a longtime anchor at 22News before his retirement in 2019.