BEACHWOOD, Ohio — Taking steps to raise awareness.
People all over Cuyahoga and Lorain counties put on their purple and hit the pavement Sunday for the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made things tougher for fundraising and families this year.
“It's a crazy, sad disease. I always say it's like two losses. You know, there's the loss of them from the disease. And then when they pass,” said Caroline James, a caregiver for people with the disease.
Caroline James knows that loss firsthand. She cares for Alzheimer's patients at a senior living community and her yiayia - that means grandmother in Greek - was diagnosed two years ago.
“It’s really made me think more about how I interact with the families that are dealing with this. And then educating my family about the disease and being there, you know, their support system and advocate for those living with it,” James said.
It's why she walked with hundreds of others in this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association Cleveland Area Chapter hosted two walks Sunday in Avon, where James walked, and Cleveland.
But they came with some changes because of COVID-19.
The association set up a drive-by only Walk Promise Garden at Pinecrest in Beachwood and implemented modifications to the walk itself.
“Walk safely on their own with their small groups and their family in their neighborhood and raise awareness by wearing purple, waving your flags, showing your signs,” Katie Mang, the vice-president of Fund Development for the Alzheimer’s Association Cleveland Area Chapter, said.
But that’s not the only thing COVID-19 has changed.
“We have a little over a thousand people registered right now. We typically have about 5,000,” Mang said.
Mang said they were hoping to raise $555,000 during the Cleveland walk, but have only raised a little more than half of that so far. She said that money is critical for the organization.
“All of the funding that's raised through the walk to end Alzheimer's allows us to provide free care and support services to the local community. And a lot of the families dealing with this disease need that extra support,” Mang said.
Its support they haven’t been able to get during the pandemic.
“We can't gather together for support groups. It makes it more difficult to do visitation with your loved one that may be in a memory care facility,” Mang said.
James said this situation only motivated her to think outside of the box to raise as much money as possible.
“Us who really support this cause we're like just because COVID happened doesn't mean like during a pandemic doesn't mean we stop fighting,” James said. “We're doing a raffle this week for our family members. And we're going to stream it on our Facebook just so that I can participate. We did a live stream pie in the face event. So just everything we did, we're still doing. It just looks very different,” James said.
The association is also hoping people will donate online throughout the end of the year to help them reach their fundraising goals.
Another walk is scheduled in Ashtabula this Saturday.
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