Kutztown walks to end Alzheimer's, raises over $120,000 for research

Submitted photo Walk to End Alzheimer's at Kutztown University on Oct. 6.

The 2012 Kutztown Walk to End Alzheimer’s raised more than $120,000 for research to find better prevention, treatments and a cure for a disease that affects an estimated 5.4 million Americans.

“We had another great walk today at KU,” said Kellie Butsack, of The Alzheimer’s Association.“The cloudy skies didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the more than 600 walkers and the rain held off.”

The walk raised more than $120,000 toward their goal of $150,000. Funds raised support Alzheimer’s Association programs and services in the community and help advance research to find better prevention, treatments and a cure.

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What made the event a success was “the overwhelming dedication and commitment of the walkers, donors and sponsors, many of whom have been supporting the event for the past 7-10 plus years,” said Butsack.

Held at Kutztown University on Oct. 6, there was a 3k walk route on campus. There was food, activities, entertainment, and a special tribute to those who have experienced or are experiencing Alzheimer’s. Participants also had the opportunity to learn about Alzheimer’s disease and how to get involved, from advocacy opportunities, the latest in research and clinical trial enrollment to support programs and services.

“My hope is that the event helps participants feel supported and ‘not alone’ on their individual journeys, and that it renews their energy in continuing the fight to (Walk to) End Alzheimer’s,” said Butsack.

Her favorite part of the day was a tie between the tribute ceremony and the cash booth.

“The Promise Garden Ceremony... we honor and remember those diagnosed, those we’ve lost and those who are caregiving, and the Customers Bank Cash Booth, in which we had 10 event participants try to grab as much cash as they could in 30 seconds to add to their personal fundraising donations. All the cash was donated to the Alzheimer’s Association, courtesy of Customers Bank,” said Butsack.

New this year, caregivers could bring their loved ones who have a diagnosis to the walk’s Phoebe Ministries Family Tent respite area.

Also featured this year was a Memories in the Making art exhibit along Main Street. Walkers viewed an exhibit at the New Arts ProgramGallery and pieces on display in the storefront windows of several businesses. All participating locations were marked with purple balloons. Memories in the Making is a fine arts program for people with Alzheimer’s.

“Art allows them to express themselves when they can no longer verbally communicate and it also helps stimulate memories for them,” said Butsack.

Using watercolors, patients create art and regain the ability to communicate while boosting self-esteem and opening the channels of communication with loved ones.

“The Program gives something back to patients, families, and the community that no other program has been able to duplicate. The value of the program lies in the creative process of making the art and expressing feelings and emotions trapped inside. The artists pull us into the world of a person with Alzheimer’s. Their paintings show us glimpses of who they were, and who they still are,” said Butsack. “As walkers traveled the Main Street walk route, they had the opportunity to view a MIM exhibit at the New Arts Program Gallery, as well as see pieces displayed in the storefront windows of the following businesses: Uptown Espresso Bar, Adam n’ Eve Boutique, Dunkelberger’s Fine Jewelry, Paisley & Company, Baver’s Antiques, Firefly Bookstore, Sorrelli Jewelry, and Global Libations.”

Butsack extended a special “THANK YOU” to the Kutztown University Office of Conference Services and the Borough of Kutztown for their support and cooperation in hosting the walk for the past six years, since 2007.

Interested individuals can still support the cause by making Walk to End Alzheimer’s donations at www.alz.org, or by calling 800-272-3900.