Courtesy Photo KOBR-TV reporter Lauren Hansard emcees the walk as, from left to right, Matt Raglin, Bill Raglin, Gloria Salas and Peggy Sesky hold flowers that signify their connection to Alzheimer’s disease.
Record Staff Writer
They walked by with flowers in hand. Some flowers had names on them, others were simply for the overall cause. But as each flower landed in the Promise Garden, it was like treatment or a cure for Alzheimer’s was one step closer to discovery. In an effort to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s, hundreds showed up for the 15th annual Alzheimer’s Association Roswell Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday. And as part of the opening ceremony, walkers added flowers to this garden as a symbol for their reasons to walk. For communications and advocacy director Jamie Frye, this opening flower ceremony is her favorite part.
“It’s really cool to see everyone with flowers,” Frye said. “And I like seeing all the people who come out to support the cause. So many people in Roswell and throughout New Mexico support (Alzheimer’s).”
As the largest national fundraiser for the disease, this walk is one of seven put on in New Mexico alone. It is the longest walk in the state — four miles — and this year, walkers raised more than $20,000. Frye said that, although some of the money does go to research to find treatments for Alzheimer’s, a lot of the money stays in the states to help those who care for others with Alzheimer’s.
“It’s difficult on people like family and caregivers who are taking care of someone with the disease,” Frye said. “Caregivers report high stress (…) we are trying to increase skill and knowledge and reduce stress for them.”
But it’s not just about the money people collect from friends and neighbors: the walk is also to spread awareness about a disease that is rapidly claiming more people every year. In New Mexico, 31,000 have Alzheimer’s, Frye said, and by 2025 that number is expected to jump to 43,000. As the baby boomers start to reach that wise old age, the number of Alzheimer’s patients will also increase. To help with the awareness, there was an opening ceremony, complete with a New Mexico Military Institute color guard performance. People had the opportunity to talk about their own personal experiences with Alzheimer’s before walking for that person or reason. Tears and emotions moved their way around the crowd on the Chaves County Courthouse Lawn.
“In New Mexico, 31,000 have Alzheimer’s, Frye said, and by 2025 that number is expected to jump to 43,000.”
Although Frye said she doesn’t have a personal connection to Alzheimer’s, she believes very strongly in the cause.
“It’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States,” she said. “And with no cure or treatment the problem is only getting bigger. The work we do is important for future generations, so they don’t have to go through the stress of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.” This is a primary motivator for Frye: she doesn’t want her son to end up in a position of taking care of her should she be claimed by dementia.
Regardless of whether a person walked for a specific individual or just because they believe in the importance of working toward a solution to Alzheimer’s, the walkers made a statement, and another Roswell Walk to End Alzheimer’s was successfully added to the books.
To donate, call the Roswell office at 624-1552 or visit alz.org/newmexico.