HANNIBAL — The second Walk to End Alzheimer's on Saturday, Sept. 7 is set to build on the success of Hannibal's event last year, which brought in more than $26,000 to help fight the disease.
The family-friendly event begins with registration at 8 a.m. at the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center, and the walk will follow a shaded, two-mile route through Sodalis Nature Preserve. Participants are asked to make tax-deductible donations instead of paying a registration fee. The Alzheimer's Association started its first walk in 1989, expanding to become the world's largest event for raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer's care, support and research. Walk Committee member Peep Dennis looks forward to being part of a cause close to her heart.
For the past 14 years, Dennis has been part of the effort to find a cure for Alzheimer's. She joined the Sigma Kappa sorority at Culver-Stockton College in 2005, and one of their philanthropies was to join in the fight against Alzheimer's. Since then, she has participated in the Quincy Walk to End Alzheimer's each year. Dennis wasn't able to attend the 2018 Hannibal event, but she has been actively involved in the planning process for 2019 and will get the chance to participate for the second walk.
The goal for this year's event is $30,000 — Dennis said businesses, teams and individuals are joining the 2019 walk for the first time. According to the association, there were 88 participants and 22 teams signed up and $11,136 had been raised by Wednesday evening.
"I think that the more people who are involved, and the more people we can have working on the committee and participating in the walk, it spreads awareness because more people know about the progress we're making and the progress the Alzheimer's Association is making," Dennis said. "So, the more people involved, the bigger impact there is."
Alzheimer's disease has affected many families in the Hannibal area, and Dennis remembered visiting her great-aunt and great-uncle each Sunday in Palmyra. The disease's progression affected her great-aunt more and more as time passed.
"She spent years at the end, not really fully aware of who we were or where she was," Dennis said. "It's been a big benefit to me to see that the work I'm doing is going to pay off for somebody else as well."
The association estimates there are more than 5 million Americans living with the disease, which physicians define as progressive mental deterioration in middle or old age because of general brain degeneration. Estimates also show that someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's disease every 65 seconds.
There is no cure, but one of the key goals for each walk is to "lead the way to Alzheimer's first survivor," according to the association's website.
Dennis encouraged volunteers to come out to help with setup work beginning at noon Friday, Sept. 6, at the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center, 301 Warren Barrett Drive. Preparations will continue early Saturday morning. A ceremony will take place at 9 a.m., followed by the two-mile walk at 9:30 a.m.
Some of the information in this story was provided by Ashley Szatala.