Walk to End Alzheimer’s 2017

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. It works globally, nationally, and locally to provide care and support for those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. It provides 24/7 helplines, support groups, educational sessions, message boards, comprehensive online resources, an online action planning tool, and the nation’s foremost library and research center devoted to increasing Alzheimer’s and dementia knowledge. It also has a database for researchers to share scientific data, a professional society for those dedicated to Alzheimer’s and dementia science, an emergency response service, an annual conference, a scientific journal, and many clinical studies underway. It is the largest non-profit funder of Alzheimer’s research.

Photo by Lauren Leopard

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Kara Griffey, Walk Director - Alzheimer's Association, Oregon ChapterIt has myriad initiatives and operates with local chapters across the nation. We recently had a chance to chat about one of its initiatives: the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, with Kara Griffey, the Walk Director at the Alzheimer’s Association Oregon Chapter. The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s disease care, support, and research.

Since the Walk started in 1989, it has grown in participation and with funding. What goals are in place for success going forward?

KG: “Our goal is always to make sure that the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is reflective of the community, and an opportunity to share the mission, and passion of those touched by the disease.  As we move forward, we hope that more people will become story tellers and use the Walk as a platform to spread the awareness this disease deserves, and, by doing so, inspire others to give to the cause.  We will continue to rely on the amazing volunteers in the community that put on their local Walk, and to grow the volunteers leading this effort so we can continue to reach more and more people, and a diverse group of people.”


How would you describe the Walk’s interest and participation? 

KG: “The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is one of the fastest growing events of its kind in the nation, seeing positive growth nationally, and locally.  As more Americans are faced with the challenges of this disease, more people are interested in getting involved and making a difference in the trajectory of this disease, and that is fantastic! We look forward to seeing many new faces this year at all our Walks across the state and are working hard to recruit new teams with diverse backgrounds.”


What are some of the Alzheimer’s Association’s nationwide efforts that we can support beyond the Walk?

KG: “The Alzheimer’s Association is the leader in terms of care, support, research, and advocacy efforts, working globally and locally to advance all areas forward.  There are many ways for people to get involved with us, whether by becoming an advocate and helping advance public policy, or volunteering to facilitate one of our local support groups and enrolling in TrialMatch®.  TrialMatch is a free clinical trial matching service that helps us ensure that research is moving forward for treatment, prevention, and a cure. Be sure to visit alz.org/oregon for more information!”



The walk’s funds are broken down into Alzheimer’s care, support, research, awareness, and advocacy; as well as fundraising and administrative efforts. How has the use of funds changed since the walk’s start and what are you most excited about raising money toward?

KG: “Due to strong fundraising support, we had more than 152,000 services interactions across the state last year. In 2016, this included more than 250 community education classes, 80 support groups, 5,000 24/7 Helpline calls, as well as increased opportunities for people with dementia to connect with life enrichment activities. Growing our services across Oregon would not be possible without fundraising efforts.”


Any parting message you would like to pass on?

KG: “Get involved in any of the ways mentioned above! Whether you are 1 or 100, there is a way to participate to help end this disease.  Let’s show the world our purple passion and that together we can do better today than we did yesterday.  We are on our way to meeting the first survivor of this disease and that is something to be excited about, be hopeful about, and mobilize together around.”


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