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Friday, January 27, 2023

Weekend walk to raise money for Alzheimer’s research

To raise money for Alzheimer’s disease research and treatment, more than 600 people will walk through a Gainesville park Saturday.

The eighth-annual Gainesville Walk to End Alzheimer’s free event, organized by the Alzheimer’s Association, will begin at 8 a.m. at Westside Park, located at 1001 NW 34th St. The walk will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Michelle Branham, the vice president of communications of public policy for the Central and North Florida chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, said watching students take time from their day to support a noble cause inspires her.

“It’s really exciting to see young people care about their community, care about their elders, care about what’s happening with this disease,” she said.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of brain dysfunction that ultimately leads to death, said David Borchelt, a neuroscience professor in the UF College of Medicine.

He said there is a need for more investments to fund research for Alzheimer’s because there is presently no effective treatment for it. And while most associate the disease with memory loss, it entails much more.

“It is memory loss, but it is also progressive dysfunction,” Borchelt said. “And patients lose the ability ultimately to walk and talk and feed themselves and take care of themselves.”

With a fundraising goal of $101,550, the event has raised about $49,363 as of press time, according to the event’s website.

With hundreds of Alzheimer’s walks taking place across the country, Branham said she enjoys the Gainesville walk because it involves so many young people from UF and the surrounding community.

This year, the Alzheimer’s Association is expecting more than 700 people to show up to the walk Saturday, which would be a record.

Continuing its mission and engaging as many people as possible would help push the association toward its goal of having an Alzheimer’s treatment and prevention plan by 2025.

“That’s our mission,” she said. “We’re bound by that mission.”

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Since 1989, the national Walk to End Alzheimer’s campaign has raised more than $492 million, Branham wrote in an email.

“We do it for them,” she said. “We do it for the 5.3 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and all those families.”

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