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Alzheimer’s Walk in Santa Clarita attracts hundreds

Posted: September 21, 2013 6:14 p.m.
Updated: September 21, 2013 6:14 p.m.

From left, Wyatt Vlach, 17, and sisters Bailey, 19, and Cassidy, 16, hold up purple flowers in honor of victims of Alzheimer's during the Walk to End Alzheimer's event held at Bridgeport Park in Santa Clarita on Saturday.

Hundreds of people flocked to Valencia’s Bridgeport Park Saturday to take part in the first Santa Clarita Walk to End Alzheimer’s event, put on by the Alzheimer’s Association to raise money for and awareness about the disease.

About 650 people registered to participate in the event, said Jean Dickinson, vice president of communications and marketing for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Though Saturday’s event was the first held in Santa Clarita, other walks have been held throughout the country for years, Dickinson said.

“We have services in the Santa Clarita Valley and the Valencia area, so we knew the demand was here,” she said.

“This was a natural offshoot of what we were doing already.”

Organizers say they plan to bring the event back next year.

One of the walkers Saturday was Bill Duke, a 77-year-old Valencia resident.

“This was a good event,” he said. “They had a lot of people here.”

Jeff Friedman, a Saugus resident and the chairman of Saturday’s event, has volunteered with the Alzheimer’s Association for years after coming face-to-face with those affected by the disease while working in the in-home care industry.

“What you find is that it is a disease that robs people of the precious things called memories,” he said. “You see them start to lose themselves.”

“You have to find some way to help,” he added. “You want to do something to stop this.”

By the time the last walkers were crossing the finish line — greeted with a chorus of cheers and the clanging of cowbells — organizers said the event had already passed its fundraising goal, taking in more than $70,000 for Alzheimer’s research.

But the money raised is only one aspect of the event.

“There’s a huge awareness component,” Dickinson said. “For years Alzheimer’s was one of those diseases that nobody really talked about, it was in the shadows.

“We’re working to bring it out of the shadows.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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