promise garden

The Promise Garden signifies an important mission to the nonprofit, which is fighting to end Alzheimer’s disease.

NEW PORT RICHEY — Alzheimer’s disease is a cruel brain disorder that slowly destroys cherished memories of loved ones, the ability to care for oneself, and kills recognition of those we interact with daily.

The Alzheimer’s Association will once again rally the public to join in the fight to end the deadly disease by participating in Walk to End Alzheimer’s this weekend at Sims Park, 5919 Main St., New Port Richey. It’s free to register, but the association asks participants to make a personal donation and commit to raising funds in the fight against Alzheimer’s. The walk will kick off with an opening ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 16. Register online at www.act.alz.org/pasco.

“In Florida, we have so many people who suffer from this disease,” said Michelle Olson, Pasco County Walk to End Alzheimer’s director. “But what I really like about the walk is that, of course it raises funds for the Association, but it brings a lot of awareness. I’ve heard countless amounts of stories of people who’ve walked with us and then some were able to connect to our free programs and services.”

The Alzheimer’s Association Pasco walk typically aims to raise $60,000 each year. The Florida Gulf Coast Chapter is based in Clearwater, and 16 counties are associated with the Gulf Coast chapter. Proceeds raised help the organization with Alzheimer’s research in addition to providing free services to families and individuals in need.

The walk this year has been moved to a new location, Sims Park. In its previous four years, it took place at Starkey Park. Participants can walk a mile or two at their own pace, and meet others who share similar experiences.

“I think the most mission-focused and important part of our walk is the Promise Garden,” Olson said. “If you’re familiar with the walk, you’ve probably seen the pinwheel flower that we carry while we walk. Each of the colored flowers represents your connection to the disease, whether you have Alzheimer’s, you’re a caregiver, or you’ve lost someone to Alzheimer’s. That is an emotional part of the walk.”

Organizers are excited to bring this event in-person this year, as last year it had to be done virtually. Volunteers are needed to assist with the walk, and can reach out to Olson via email at mdolson@alz.org for more information.