Participants in the 2019 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at the Detroit Zoo raise pinwheel flowers signifying their connections to Alzheimer’s disease. This year, the event will take place Oct. 30.

Participants in the 2019 Walk to End Alzheimer’s at the Detroit Zoo raise pinwheel flowers signifying their connections to Alzheimer’s disease. This year, the event will take place Oct. 30.

Photo provided by Kyle Leonard


Walk to End Alzheimer’s scheduled for Oct. 30 at zoo

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published August 25, 2021

 People write messages on a memory wall at the event two years ago.

People write messages on a memory wall at the event two years ago.

Photo provided by Kyle Leonard

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ROYAL OAK — After reverting to a virtual format last year, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s will return to the Detroit Zoo Oct. 30.

The event is the largest fundraiser for the Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, funding its many programs and resources for those with the disease and their loved ones.

While the event is currently set to be held in person, organizers are working closely with zoo and health officials to monitor the cases of COVID-19 and the Delta variant and will make changes as prescribed. Safety protocols will include physical distancing, masks where required, contactless registration and hand sanitizing stations.

The walk at the Detroit Zoo is one of hundreds throughout the country to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.

Currently, there is no cure for the disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is an epidemic, with more than 5 million Americans living with the disease and 1 in 3 seniors dying with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

While the event is free, organizers encourage personal donations and the creation of teams to raise funds and bring awareness to the cause. At press time, 995 participants and 312 teams had raised $217,649 of the $660,000 goal.

On Oct. 30, registration will begin at 7 a.m., followed by the opening ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Walkers will then have the opportunity to stroll the 2-mile route before the zoo opens to the public.

The walk will offer a variety of family-friendly activities, including a kids zone, memory wall, champions tent and vendors.

Registrants will also receive a Promise Garden pinwheel flower on walk day.

Pinwheel flowers come in four colors to represent the individual’s connection to the disease: blue for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, purple for someone who has lost a loved one to the disease, yellow for caregivers, and orange for anyone who supports the cause and a vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.

Collin Mays, a longtime supporter of the cause and this year’s chair, had two grandparents who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. He began participating in the event to raise awareness, specifically the doubled risk the disease poses to African Americans, and hope.

“Unfortunately, I understand the severity of the disease, and I wanted to get more involved,” he said. “Alzheimer’s impacts everybody — if not now, then it will in the future.”

Mays said he was very close with his grandparents.

“Of course it’s hard to watch people you love go through something as drastic as Alzheimer’s — it changes who you are,” he said. “(The walk) is great because you get a chance to see all of the people rallying on the same date to support loved ones.”

Steve Windom, senior director of development for the Alzheimer’s Association Michigan Chapter, said more than 5,000 people participated in the walk at the zoo in 2019, and the feeling of community was tangible.

“This walk is really the revenue generator for all the impact we’re able to make in people’s lives here in Michigan,” he said. “The hardest thing is to feel alone. If you need us, we are here.”

Support groups are one of the major resources the organization offers, he said, specifically for caregivers or those who have lost a loved one due to Alzheimer’s.

Windom added that while the Michigan chapter has seen an uptick in college students who have become involved after their loved ones were diagnosed with the disease, more volunteers are needed.

The Detroit Zoo is located at 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, west of Woodward Avenue.

For more information about the Alzheimer’s Association or to register for the walk, visit act.alz.org.

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