The Walk to End Alzheimer’s was everywhere this year
Due to COVID-19, small groups walked on area trails, in neighborhoods
Pandemic or not, Alzheimer’s is not waiting to afflict loved ones with a disease that wipes out memories, alters personalities and adds strife to families who love and care for those who have it. This year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraiser looked a little different than in years past, but the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop those fighting for the Alzheimer’s Association’s mission: a world without Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
The Vail Valley has hosted the local Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the past two years at Brush Creek Park in Eagle. The event usually brings out hundreds of people wearing purple and walking together in honor of loved ones. Due to COVID-19, participants this year were asked to walk with family and friends in smaller groups around neighborhoods and on trails.
“This year, the ‘Walk is Everywhere’ motto worked so well for the Vail Valley because many of our participants have a favorite hike or walking path or picked a special route on that day,” said Melinda Gladitsch, chairperson for the Vail Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s. “I think we are lucky that we have so many beautiful neighborhood streets and trails to choose from, it really worked out well for our valley,” Gladitsch said.
Teams were spread out all over Eagle County taking treks up the Minturn Mile, West Lake Creek, Allie’s Trail on Beaver Creek Mountain and Berry Picker on Vail Mountain.
“One of the benefits of having the walk everywhere is that we had team members walking all over the country. I had team members walking in Seattle, Vermont and Iowa,” Gladitsch said.
Ellen Miller of Edwards took the Walk to End Alzheimer’s to new heights. She logged 4,000 vertical feet and 15 miles to show her support on Mount Massive, which is 14,429 feet above sea level.
“As an Alzheimer’s disease caregiver, I wanted to make damn sure it was meaningful,” Miller said in her Facebook post. Miller is a former Himalayan mountain climber who has summited Mount Everest two times.
Locally, 39 teams and over 200 people participated in this year’s event. At press time, over $83,000 had been raised and the goal is to get $130,000 by the end of the year.
“The Alzheimer’s Association is self-funded, so the money we raise through our 13 Walks to End Alzheimer’s around Colorado is critical, as it enables us to continue to provide education, programs and services to all Colorado families at no charge,” said Catie Davis, development manager at the Greater Boulder and Mountain Region of the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition, these funds support the Alzheimer’s Association’s aggressive research program to find a cure for the sixth-leading cause of death. Currently, the Alzheimer’s Association has $208 million invested in 590 scientific investigations.
“There currently are nearly 6 million people across the United States living with Alzheimer’s disease, including 76,000 Coloradans. We owe it to them and the many millions of family members who care for them around the clock, to continue raising money to end the scourge of dementia. Alzheimer’s is relentless, but so are we,” said Amelia Schafer, executive director of the Colorado chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. For more information or to donate, go to act.alz.org.
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Vail’s updated plans regarding the state guidelines and isolation housing requirements is one of several pieces of information guests are waiting on heading into the 2020-21 season.