Last Saturday, November 12, 2016, Temple OT students got together to participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. After raising $906 as a team through generous donations from family and friends as well as fundraising, we were ready to walk. We joined a crowd of people that was filled with bright smiles and positive energy. Whether we knew each other or not, that morning we were all united by a common, two-fold purpose—to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease and to support the search for a cure. The weather was chilly but our hearts were warm. Armed with our colorful flowers to represent the different reasons why we were all walking, we marched through Citizens Bank Park hopeful for an end to this disease. For some of us, the walk was deeply personal. Christine DiChiara, 2nd year student and our team leader this year, shares her story about why she walked below.
Millions of families are affected by Alzheimer’s Disease each year. Four years ago, my family joined this statistic when my grandmother was diagnosed at the age of eighty-four. She was the most loving, courageous, free spirited woman I have ever known. And as I watched this heinous disease slowly take over her life, I decided it was time to take a stand. I first participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s last year because I wanted to raise money and awareness for the disease. I wanted to take any opportunity I could to ensure that other families would not have to endure what mine has.
Participating in this event has given me a glimpse at how many people are affected by this disease. At the start of the event, participants were encouraged to take a flower from the Promise Garden, where a different color flower represented how the disease has affected you. Whether you are the caregiver of a patient with Alzheimer’s, currently suffer from Alzheimer’s, lost a loved one to this disease, or were at the event to raise awareness, everyone’s voice was heard. During the opening ceremonies, participants were asked to raise their flowers in the air as one voice, unified to beat this disease. At that moment, thousands of flowers were held in the air and it was truly a breathtaking moment. To see so many people come together to support a cause to benefit the lives of others was incredibly inspiring.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is so important to me because it gives people, like my grandmother, a voice. It brings people together to fight for their loved ones. And more importantly, it gives people hope for the future; hope that we can overcome this disease and that someday there will be a cure. But until that day, it is crucial that we continue to raise awareness and donate to this cause.
This year, I walked to honor my grandmother’s legacy. I walked with my purple flower held high, to represent losing someone I loved to this awful disease. And I will continue to walk until we find a cure.
Written by Christine DiChiara
(More more photos, click here or find the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s 2016” album on our Facebook page!)