LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -The community came together to walk, fight and end one of the most deadly diseases in the county today at Elmer Thomas Park.
Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and affects more than 65,000 Oklahomans. The Alzheimer's Association hosted its 7th annual fundraiser to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's care, support and research. Their goal was to raise $35,000 and they broke the record and raised $40,000. Families and friends walked with either a blue, orange, yellow or purple flower, each showing their reason for walking today whether it was for a loved one lost or if they are currently battling Alzheimer's.
A promise garden is what The Alzheimer's Association calls all the different colored flowers these members of the community hold as they walk to help end this disease. For Jo Riley, she's walking and carrying a yellow flower since she is a caretaker for her husband, who has been battling Alzheimer's for more than 10 years. She says some days are harder than others, but if he were able to come today, he would be emotional.
"He would be happy, he would. I think he would just says I'm grateful," said Riley.
Riley says he is in good hands and being taken care of at the Lawton Veterans Center. She says she's grateful there is an event like this that's educating and help spread awareness. She says she going to keep these people and the images from today close to her heart because she knows she's not alone.
"It's wonderful, you know. Sometimes we think it's the ones who have been directly affected, but it's not that way now," said Riley.
Mark Fried with the Alzheimer's Organization says it's families like Riley's that remind them why the walk is so important. He says hearing their stories motivates him to continue to improve ways in which the organization assists families with the funds raised.
"We will meet with individual families and have care consultations with them. We have support groups throughout the entire area of the state. We have a 24 hour help line," said Fried.
Riley says this is her first year to be apart of the Alzheimer's walk, but it won't be the last. She hopes to bring more family members next year and start a tradition. She says she's never seen the community unite over a cause that effects her and her family.
"We all need togetherness and this is great. It's a good program to keep everyone loving each other," said Riley.
You can still donate to the Alzheimer's Association until the end of September to receive a free T-shirt. You can go online to www.act.alz.org or text 2ENDALZ to 51555.