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To Walk or Not to Walk?
The Wilder Team at the Walk to End Alzheimer's

A great question! Getting up at 6 am on Saturday to Walk to End Alzheimer's sounded like a great idea when it was several weeks away but the morning of, with no coffee in hand, I questioned my sanity. As I took the light rail towards Target Field to meet the rest of the Wilder Team, I remember reflecting on the beauty outside the window as the train sped through the city and pondering the day's meaning.

 

We were walking for those who couldn't. For those whose voice couldn't be heard. Standing up for those who were fearful of the diagnosis and fearful of where their road could lead.

It had suddenly turned into a great morning, coffee or not. To be in Target Field with other professionals, caregivers, family members, friends, and those with the diagnosis of Alzheimer's was moving. We all care about impacting this disease and advocating for change! Walking to make a difference can be done, a simple action, empowering all of us to not allow a negative stigma to be made about Alzheimer's. I didn't walk just because I work with those caregivers of individuals with memory loss. I chose to walk for those clients, family members, and friends still to come that would also be diagnosed.

Little children with glitter in their hair, dyed purple, and faces painted skipped along the route ahead of the crowds walking through downtown Minneapolis. Police officers handled traffic with smiles and friendly greetings to the walkers. Volunteers jumped and sang along on the sidelines, encouraging us to keep going. Our team of teal posed for pictures along the way.

With a disease such as Alzheimer's, there tends to be an air of trepidation around the topic and those with the diagnosis. None of that was present at the walk. Only hope and joy filled the air. Laughter could be heard from various groups throughout the walk as everyone from different walks of life united to make a statement. Walking in large groups of purple we took over downtown for those who couldn't and for those who haven't even been diagnosed yet.

This was my first walk for any cause. Today, there is no cure for Alzheimer's but that didn't quiet those around me as I walked. That won't make these souls in purple sit down. It only empowers them to speak up more. I'm glad I chose the Walk to End Alzheimer's.

Jennifer Finstad, MSW, LGSW, is the Caregiver Services social worker for the Wilder Foundation's Community Services for Aging. She is a master trained leader of the Powerful Tools for Caregivers education program, Certified Caregiver Coaching Consultant, Certified T-Care Assessment Consultant, and a Certified Dementia Capability Caregiver Consultant. Jennifer leads classes and workshops for caregivers in the East Metro and provides support and guidance as caregivers negotiate their roles along their journey as a caregiver.

Above: The Wilder walkers take a break for a photo during the Walk to End Alzheimer's.

 

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Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, 451 Lexington Parkway North, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55104 Phone: 651-280-2000
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