published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Teams forming for Walk to end Alzheimer's
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING - Teams are forming and funds are rising for the annual Alzheimer's Association walk. The Walk to End Alzheimer's is an annual event that brings together Alzheimer's advocates in countless communities across the country.
Close to home, the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of Alzheimer's Association encompasses several counties and works to serve hundreds of thousands of people living with the disease.
Special Events coordinator Katie Hood has been busy these past few weeks but continues to encourage people to join up and help with the fight.
"So far we have 12 teams signed up for Sebring. The goal this year is $16,000," Hood said.
Last year's walk brought in just more than $9,000, which is just below the organization's goal. This year, for the fourth run of the event, Hood and the organization's advocates know that meeting such a huge goal is going to take a lot of hard work by volunteers and teams.
Hood is expecting a lot more than the 12 teams currently signed up for the Sebring walk and hopes to see even more than previous years.
"There are a lot of other teams who have been raising money and formed; they just haven't officially registered yet, so we can't really count them," Hood said.
More than 100 participants took the walk in Downtown Sebring last fall. With the need for help and services becoming greater, the Alzheimer's Association hopes to continue the battle for awareness and resources.
The Sebring walk has several new teams that will be participating for the first time in the coming weeks.
Each team sets its own monetary goals and all the funds raised go directly to the chapter and provide support services for those diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (or a related dementia) and their families.
"There's a real need out here. A lot more people are being affected by it, that's why the goal is set so high," Hood said.
According to Hood's statistics, Highlands County has 5,400 diagnosed cases of Alzheimer's currently. Neighboring Polk County, which is part of the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, is one of the highest counties with diagnosed cases. Polk reports 16, 500 diagnosed persons with Alzheimer's disease. Within the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, (which includes the counties of Highlands, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardy, Hendry, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Polk, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota and Sumter) there has been 172,000 diagnosed cases of the disease. Florida ranks fourth in the nation with Alzheimer's diagnosis; the state reports 523,000 individuals suffering from Alzheimer's.
"These are just the diagnosed cases. The people that know they have it, that go see a doctor, that have help. There are so many more undiagnosed people here," Hood said.
Not only do diagnosis and treatment slip through the cracks for hundreds of thousands of people, but the ages of the diagnosed are becoming younger and younger.
"There's a case of someone being diagnosed in their late 40's ... we had a woman recently diagnosed who is only 56. The diagnosis are getting younger and younger. It's an epedimic and so many are affected by it," Hood said.
To become a part of the Walk to End Alzheimer's and help raise funds to fight the disease, log on to www.alz.org/FLGulfCoast/ or call 384-3444 or 1-800-272-3900.
Teams may register up until the day of the event, though early registration is encouarged. Each participant that raises at least $100 recieves a Walk T-shirt. Donations are always accepted; checks should be made payable to The Alzheimmer's Association and mailed to 14010 Roosevelt Blvd. Suite 709, Clearwater FL 33762 (Attn: Walk to End Alzheimer's).
The Walk to End Alzheimer's will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27. Pre-activities and registration begin at 8 a.m. The walk will take place rain or shine and will begin at Circle Park.
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