Walk to End Alzheimer’s on November 16

Last year, hundreds of Naples area residents gathered at North Collier Regional Park for the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

This November, they will do so again to raise awareness, funds and hope for a cure.

On Walk day, participants will honor those affected by Alzheimer’s disease with “promise flowers” during the poignant Promise Garden Ceremony – a moving display of hope to represent the personal reasons participants join together to fight Alzheimer’s.”

An estimated 5.8 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s, with another person developing the disease every 65 seconds,” advised Kathy Heldman, development manager for the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “

In an effort to combat this growing public health crisis, the Alzheimer’s Association hosts the Walk to End Alzheimer’s every year to bring together all those who have been impacted by the disease for a day of hope and solidarity.

For Catherine Finigan, Naples resident and owner of Naturally You Healing, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s was one of the first public events she attended after losing her husband to the disease in 2017.

“Everyone there was so supportive,” Finigan said of the event. “To see all those people come with such enthusiasm to support this cause was so uplifting.”

And an uplifting experience is often just what is needed for those living with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones, given the everyday struggles and challenges of the disease.

“My husband was a retired executive from Boston and he had a very active lifestyle, so after the diagnosis, our whole life changed,” Finigan advised. “He had to do a test to improve his cognitive ability, and he would just stare at it and say, ‘I can’t believe I can’t do this.’

It just kind of breaks your heart to see someone so intelligent, so successful, not be able to do something so simple.

Now a support group facilitator for the Alzheimer’s Association, Finigan shares her experience with every caregiver she meets, encouraging them to stay positive and to get involved with heartening events like the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

“There is so much strength and power in numbers,” Finigan said.  “The group is stronger than the individual, by far, and no one wants to feel alone in this, so I always try to encourage people to get involved.”

The 2019 Walk to End Alzheimer’s for Collier County will be held Saturday, November 16, at North Collier Regional Park in Naples. To join, visit act.alz.org/collier. For more information, email Kathy Heldman at kaheldman@alz.org.

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