When her mother, Mimi, was formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2015, Leslie Kilpatrick and her sister, Susan, [[https://www.alzsd.org/walk4alz-team-mimis-marchers/]] met with experts at Alzheimer’s San Diego (ALZSD) who provided them with essential referrals, resources, and support. Kilpatrick then formed Mimi’s Marchers, a team that participated in the annual Walk4ALZ in honor of her mother. That was nearly 10 years ago, and while Mimi died in October 2018, Mimi’s Marchers kept on marching. On Saturday, October 21st, Kilpatrick will lace up her shoes once more to take part in the Walk4ALZ 2023.
Anyone can join the family-friendly Walk4ALZ 2023 (four-legged furballs included), and even if you aren’t directly impacted by this insidious disease, chances are you will be someday. A few statistics [https://www.alzsd.org/resources/facts-stats/]:
- Every 67 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease [https://www.alzsd.org/resources/what-is-alzheimers-disease/] in America.
- With an anticipated 500,000 new diagnoses this year, Alzheimer’s disease is a nationwide epidemic.
- Alzheimer’s is the 5th leading cause of death in California.
- There are roughly 100,000 people living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia in San Diego County today.
- There are nearly 300,000 San Diegans caring for a loved one with dementia today.
All of this translates to a massive impact on San Diego families and broader communities.
As a local nonprofit, Alzheimer’s San Diego is able to quickly and efficiently respond to the changing needs of the community, while providing free support (through social activities, family counseling, volunteer respite program, community education, referrals to experts, and more) to people living with dementia and their care partners. ALZSD also underpins research for a cure— happening right here in San Diego — by connecting people to clinical trials [https://www.alzsd.org/resources/san-diego-research/clinical-trials/] and awarding grants to local researchers.
Fundraising is critical to ALZSD’s ability to provide its free services, and while there are many opportunities to donate year-round, the Walk4ALZ is the organization’s most important fundraising event of the year. It’s also the most fun.
“Walk4ALZ is an incredible day of family, community, connection, and heart. People living with dementia along with their family and friends are surrounded by others who understand what they’re going through,” says Eugenia Welch, President/CEO of Alzheimer’s San Diego. “And all the money raised at Walk4ALZ stays right here in our community to keep our services free of charge to anyone in San Diego impacted by dementia.”
When she started Mimi’s Marchers, Kilpatrick’s goals were “to raise money and awareness as we coped with our own personal experience of the suffering that surrounds this fatal illness.”
Kilpatrick will walk, as she does each year, with memories of a vibrant and sassy Mimi as she was before Alzheimer’s, and in community with so many others who know that journey. If you’re thinking about joining this year’s Walk4ALZ, Kilpatrick thinks you shouldn’t hesitate for a moment.
“[J]ust do it,” she says. “You will be so glad to know the power of this community.”
So grab your sneakers and come join 2,000 people in Balboa Park for Walk4ALZ 2023. You can register for this family-friendly event in advance by clicking here [alzsd.org/walk] or on the morning of the Walk. Registration opens at 6:30 a.m. and the event begins at 8 a.m.
If you can’t make it out, you can still support Alzheimer’s San Diego by making a donation [https://alzsd.rallybound.org/walk4alz-2023/Donate]. You can even help Mimi’s Marchers hit their fundraising goal by donating at their walk page [https://alzsd.rallybound.org/walk4alz-2023/MimisMarchers]. Hope to see you there!