"To see that you're not the only family going through it means a lot" said Julie Phillips. Alzheimer's disease can come without warning and shows no mercy. 5.3 million Americans currently live with the disease 5,000 of whom live in Butte County. That's why events such as the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk are so important, helping raise money for research that could someday lead to a cure. "Our goal as an organization is to live in a world without alzheimer disease" said event manager Ashley Hamm-Gordon.
Nearly 2,000 people gathered Saturday in Bidwell Park for Chico's 16th annual memory walk. November marks alzheimer awareness month and the Alzheimer's Association is getting a head start on letting the public know just how deadly this disease can be. "It also helps raise awareness about alzheimer's disease in the community, we're trying to educate folks on what alzheimer's is and how to be on the look out" said Hamm-Gordon.
Last year the walk raised more than 130,000 dollars which goes directly towards research and also helps support local services. But there's more than just fundraising. Those who support friends and family members find out they are not alone. "Anytime I see someone, a family member, a caregiver who's been affected by the disease, we just exchange hugs" said volunteer Rick Smith. His wife Suzy battled alzheimer's disease for 10 years, she lost that battle in 2008. "I was a pilot in the navy for seven years and I've done some pretty dangerous things in my life, but the hardest and the most difficult thing I ever did was be a caregiver for my wife" Smith explained.
117 teams took part in the walk, each raising money to be donated to the Alzheimer's Association in Chico. Participants, family, friends, and those living with the disease all hopeful their efforts will pay off in the end. "While we haven't found a cure, with research we'll get closer" said Smith.