JEFFERSON CITY– The annual Jefferson City Walk to End Alzheimer’s looked a little different this year due to the pandemic.
With the need to follow social distancing guidelines, the Greater Missouri Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association had to devise a plan that balanced both participant safety and the walk’s mission.
This year’s walk did not take place in one location. Participants were encouraged to walk with smaller groups of friends and family all across the city.
“I think the biggest opportunity this year is instead of the walk being a single day, in a single place in Jefferson City, the walk is everywhere,” said the walk’s manager, Joe Pallikkathayil.
Pallikkathayil said he views the challenges the organization has faced this year due to the pandemic as a blessing.
“What is different about this year is that the walk has transitioned from an event into a movement. We’ve got people that are continuously walking until we have a cure for Alzheimer’s,” he said.
The event also featured a drive through viewing of the organization’s Promise Garden, where different colors of pinwheel flowers were arranged to represent various people impacted by Alzheimer’s or Dementia in the area.
Pallikkathayil explained the money raised from registered participants helps fund local support groups and helps provide access to a 24/7 hotline, care consultations and education programming.
Alzheimer’s Walk Chair, Christa Roehl, talked about how her personal connection to the disease has sparked her involvement in the organization.
“With three members of my family that have been touched by this disease, it’s something that’s very close to me as to where my future could be going,” she said.
Roehl joined the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association in 2015 after her mother received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She spoke about her experience with being a caregiver to her mother.
“It’s impossible situations, it’s impossible choices and it’s not fun,” she said.
Roehl hosted a walk at her home Sunday where friends and family gathered to spread awareness in her neighborhood.
Roehl said the Alzheimer’s Association hopes to have a preventative treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s by 2025, but she believes more needs to be done sooner.
“Alzheimer’s and Dementia is not a normal part of aging, and I think that is very misunderstood. This should not be the price we pay for living longer lives,” she said.
Until a cure is found, Roehl said the mission to spread awareness will keep on moving.
“We just keep doing this until we have an answer,” she said.
The money raised from the walk goes toward research and local Alzheimer’s support. To find more ways to get involved, click here.