Community Walks to End Alzheimer’s

Residents of the New Haven community, University of New Haven students included, gathered on Sunday for the New Haven Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The walk was one of many around the country hosted by the Alzheimer’s Association and run by a team of local volunteers.

Karina Krul/The Charger Bulletin                                            (From left to Right) Rachael Ruccio, Lori Bottinick, Emily Bottinick, and Ann Hanks walk for their mother.

Gill Simmons, from WTNH News 8, spoke at the opening ceremonies before the walk.  

“Let’s show the world our passion,” Simmons said to the crowd.

Diane Davis has been a volunteer since 1987 and has been event chair for the last 23 years. While she spoke to the crowd, monarch butterflies flew around the stage.

“I feel like the loved ones we lost are here with us,” said Davis about the butterflies.

According to the event website, 1,610 individuals participated in 239 total teams and, as of Sept. 30, raised $286,546.78, which is 94 percent of the $305,000 goal. Ninety-two percent of the event’s fundraising goal was reached by opening ceremonies at 10 a.m.

Karina Krul/The Charger Bulletin                      Participants were given colored flowers from the Promise Garden

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is “the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research,” according to the organization’s website. Christy Kovel, director of public policy for the Alzheimer’s Association, said that individuals also sign up at the walks to become advocates for funding and research, by doing things like calling their representatives.

Participants were given “Promise Garden” flowers, a term coined by the event to represent that various reasons for walking. The flowers are colored coded to represent the different reasons for participating: orange for individuals who support the cause, yellow for those who care for someone with the disease, purple for individuals who have lost someone to the disease, and blue for people with the disease.

Jewell Covington walked with her team ‘Leah’s Legacy,’ which was around 70 people strong. They were all family and friends walking for their mother and grandmother, who was diagnosed this year. She is a mother to six and a grandmother to 15, all represented at the walk.

Karina Krul/The Charger Bulletin                                                                                The team Leah’s Legacy walks for their mother and grandmother who was recently diagnosed.

“We’re just trying to get through this,” said Covington. “It’s touched our family twice.”

Mimi LaFrance, Kaitlin LaFrance, and Jonathan Blythe, all from Wallingford, participated in remembrance and support of the loved ones they’ve lost.

“I’ve lost a grandmother to it,” said Kaitlin LaFrance. “We started coming when his [Blythe] grandfather was diagnosed. It’s affected so many people we know.”

Mimi LaFrance said the event and awareness about Alzheimer’s has “grown so much with outreach and support.” She said it was “amazing even just compared to when my mother was diagnosed.”

Rachel Ruccio, Lori Bottinick, Emily Bottinick, and Ann Hanks were walking in honor of their mother, who currently suffers from dementia/Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our mother is suffering now and we’ve lost an aunt,” said Hanks. “We know the importance of research and that it’s hereditary, so it’s all on our minds.”

The group also attended the walk looking for support, because they are caregivers for their mother.

Simmons spoke about the dream of curing Alzheimer’s, and said that one day the events first white flower will represent the first Alzheimer’s survivor.

“Until that beautiful day happens, we must not back down,” said Simmons.