CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The North Central West Virginia Walk to End Alzheimer’s took place outside the Harrison County Courthouse Plaza Sunday as walkers gathered in person to fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
The North Central Walk raises money for Alzheimer’s research and allows the Alzheimer’s Association West Virginia Chapter to provide free care and support services to local families. WBOY Anchor, Don Graye was the emcee of the event with a special guest appearance by Snowbird. This year’s goal is to raise $40,000 for the cause.
“These walks are important because it allows those who are suffering with Alzheimer’s, those caregivers of those individuals, and others to be able to come together and know how much we have in common. We can sort of share our grief and share just being together and hearing some joy in the background is always good too,” said Bill O’Field, Co-Chair of the North Central Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
Officials said Alzheimer’s is a progressive, fatal brain disease that kills nerve cells and tissues in the brain, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think, plan, speak, walk. Alzheimer’s is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
“In West Virginia there are approximately 107,000 care givers who are family members and friends for 80,000 individuals suffering with Alzheimer’s. So, that those are tremendous numbers,” O’Field said. “We know here in our state we have a high senior population. So, we are feeling the effects of Alzheimer’s in our state.”
According to the National Institute on Aging, recent estimates indicate Alzheimer’s disease may rank third, just behind heart disease and cancer, as a cause of death for older people. In West Virginia, there are 39,000 individuals 65 years of age and older living with Alzheimer’s disease and 85,000 caregivers.
“We do have a program at the senior center. It’s a support group for caregivers, caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, and it meets the second Thursday of the month,” O’Field said.
Per CDC guidelines regarding crowded outdoor settings, the Association asked that all walk attendees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or wear a mask when in an overcrowded area. They also made masks available on-site.