Bainbridge continues support of Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Published 4:37 pm Tuesday, October 29, 2019

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Willis Park was full of participants decked out in purple, who were partaking in the third annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday morning, where they raised $38,798 and counting.

Co-chairs Kathy Varner and Thea Burke were thrilled with the turnout. Varner said this year’s walk had 30 teams and estimated approximately 200 people were in attendance.

Varner said this year they tried to take a different approach to the walk; they wanted to make it more of a community event. They pushed the walk back an hour later to years prior, allowing for merchants to be open, so they could wear their purple and advocate, which Varner thought was great.

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In addition to merchants, the Bainbridge High School drum line led the walk and cheerleaders were located along the route to cheer them on and offer support. The Trawick family was also in their yard giving out waters to walkers and cheering them on.

Varner was also thankful to the City, who was supportive in their endeavors. The City was extremely involved in this year’s walk, adorning City Hall with pledge stickers to end Alzheimer’s and hosting bake sales to raise money. They additionally allowed the organization to use Willis Park and any sound equipment and tables and chairs they may need. Alpha Delta Kappa, an educational sorority and the Bainbridge Service Club also volunteered their time to help setup and cleanup.

Although some of the community involvement was new and meant to add enthusiasm, Varner said they still tried to maintain that balance between having a good time and acknowledging that Alzheimer’s is very hard on people and families and is a “difficult disease.”

One of the ways the walk acknowledges the disease is through the promise garden, which Varner said is the most meaningful part.

The garden is filled with four different color flowers: blue, purple, yellow and orange that all have a significant meaning. Blue flowers represent someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Purple flowers represent someone who has lost a loved one to the disease. Yellow flowers represent someone who is currently supporting or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and orange flowers are for everyone who supports the cause and vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.

Participants pick their color flower from the garden and can personalize it before taking it on the walk with them.

“It is so symbolic and beautiful,” Varner said.

Once the walk is over, participants can take the flower home and post it in their yard to raise awareness for others.

“It’s so neat to ride around town and still see these flowers blowing in the wind, letting everyone know about the fight,” Varner said.

Varner knows it takes more than just a flower to help bring comfort though. Burke, along with the walking committee, has started back offering an Alzheimer’s caregiver support group.

The group meets the second Friday of each month from 12-1 p.m. at Calvary Baptist Church, 601 Chason Street, where lunch is provided. They encourage everyone to attend and RSVP to Thea Burke at 229-220-6104 or Buffy Hankinson at 800-272-3900.

Varner thanks everyone in their continued efforts to provide support to caregivers, family, friends and those who suffer from the disease. She especially thanks Edward Jones, who sponsored the walk nationally. She additionally wants to remind everyone it is not too late to donate and that donations will be accepted for teams and individuals until Dec. 15.