Esther Short Park will be filled with close to a thousand people on Sept. 8
VANCOUVER — Janis Jasinsky’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2007. After seven years of battling the disease with her family, Janis’ mother passed away in 2014.
She saw how destructive the disease of Alzheimer’s was first hand. She saw how it had weighed so heavy on her father, and how it ultimately took her mom away from her. She decided to do something about it.
In doing so, she discovered she was far from alone.
She completed her first Walk to End Alzheimer’s in 2010, and has done them every year since then. Together with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people, she walks with her family and friends to raise money and awareness; aimed at defeating the disease with the cure.
“The walk is so powerful for those that are at the walk,” she said. “It’s a kind of disease that’s very isolating, people feel very alone, especially if you’re a caregiver in your home. So when you go to the walk, and you see, you know, a couple of thousand other people who actually might understand what you’ve been going through … it’s just very powerful. I wish my mom could have experienced it.”
On Sun., Sept. 8, Vancouver will host its second annual walk in Esther Short Park. The event will begin at 10 a.m. with an opening ceremony and festival. The three-mile walk will then begin out toward the Columbia River waterfront; turning toward Beaches restaurant, and then returning.
The organizers expect some 900 people to attend the event, with a fundraising goal set at $133,000. Last year, some 600 folks came out and beat the goal of $40,000, raising nearly $107,000.
As of the writing of this piece, the organization has over 450 people registered, and has raised 63 percent of their goal at about $84,000.
“Year-over-year growth is looking good from last year,” said Don Schwartz, the Vancouver walk manager. “Maybe you’ve lost somebody to Alzheimer’s, and you really don’t know anybody else. And you come to this walk and you pick up the purple flower, because you’ve lost somebody. At a point during the opening ceremony … our emcee will ask everybody that’s got a purple flower to raise it in the air in honor of those who have lost somebody.”
“All of a sudden you look around and see, you know, hundreds of other people’s purple flowers. It kind of becomes a really large support group,” Schwartz said.
At all Walks to End Alzheimer’s, there are four colors of Promise Garden Flowers; signifying each person’s story with the illness. Blue is for people currently battling Alzheimer’s or Dementia, yellow represents someone currently caring for someone with the illness, orange is for “everyone who supports the cause and vision of a world without Alzheimer’s,” and purple is for people who have lost someone to the disease.
Jansinsky’s team, TEAM LOVE, has already raised over $6,000 themselves, which well exceeded their contribution goal of $4,000. Jansinsky said she believes in the association and their support of caregivers and to cure research because they supported her while working with her mom’s illness.
“I’d encourage people to come out, it’s fun, it’s inspiring, to support the walk,” Jansinsky said. “But also to learn more about this disease and become more aware of it. If they don’t know someone with the disease now, down the road they probably will.”
Over 5 million people are affected by Alzheimer’s in the U.S. every year, according to the association. That number is expected to rise in coming years, as the existing population ages. Jansinsky hopes a cure will be found and implemented by the time her own son is elderly.
Knowing the signs of the illness can help research and caregiving. Setting up support structures for people giving and receiving care is critical early on, she said.
Registration for the walk in Vancouver will remain open up to the day of the event, and the donation link will be open to the end of the year. People can also register at the event, and can give gifts in cash, check or card at the event also. If individuals raise or contribute $100 or more, they also receive a free purple T-shirt.
The Farmers Market will also be going on at the same time as the walk, with additional vendors attending for the event. Even a Veterinary Clinic will be there, with dogs dressed in purple.
Snacks and water will be provided for all walk participants, and sponsors will be supplying water break spots along the route.