A relentless fight

Blugolds help community members celebrate their hope for a cure


Photo by Andee Erickson

Walkers hold up their Promise Garden flowers to show their support.

On a sunny Saturday morning, all ages of the Eau Claire community joined together to laugh, dance, cry, and celebrate those they love affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Association hosted The Walk to End Alzheimer’s event Saturday Sept. 12 in Carson Park. Event coordinator Hailey Krajewski said the association’s mission is to keep raising awareness for the disease and increase funding that goes towards care, support, and research methods for a cure, Krajewski said. They hope to raise $97,000 this year.

Carson Park has hosted the Eau Claire event for over 15 years. Aside from the one mile loop around the park, the event included lawn games, a DJ, food and beverages for everyone, and an auction with goods donated by local businesses.

The association also distributed petition slips people could sign that asked senators to continue providing care and prioritizing Alzheimer’s disease research.

Each registered walker was able to choose a Promise Garden flower to carry during the walk. The four different colored flowers each have a different meaning that represents the carrier’s connection to the disease. During the opening ceremony, walkers raised their flowers as their color was called.

Many, like the Marshfield Clinic team, held orange flowers to show their support. Erica Werlein said because they work in neurology they see patients with memory disorders on a daily basis.

She invited a crew of people to support the cause and be together. Her team was to be seen running across the finish line.

The emcee for the event, Judy Clark, spoke about how the growing cost of care destroys family’s finances.

“Alzheimer’s is relentless, but so are we,” Clark said. “Together we can allow the Alzheimer’s association to continue providing care and support programs to those affected.”

But ultimately they’re walking for a cure, Clark said.

Many of the walkers and volunteers lost loved ones to Alzheimer’s. Clark shared with the crowd how she lost her mother to dementia.

“She died in 2007,” Clark said as listeners wiped their eyes. “But she was lost to us many years before that.”

Junior healthcare administration major Sam Paider volunteers every year at the event. She said she’s inspired to help out after her experience with a grandparent affected by dementia.

Paider is part of American College and Healthcare Administrators along with 17 other students who volunteered at the event.

“It’s a disease that affects a lot of people,” junior Carmen Flunker said. “Especially the people that we work with.”

The ACHCA wasn’t the only campus group at the event. The Blugold Marching Band engaged the crowd as they played a few songs before and after the walk.

After the walk, Krawjewski announced the Alzheimer’s Association raised over $83,000. The association takes donations until the end of the year.

The event closed with all ages and a Blugold mascot dancing to “Cupid Shuffle.”