The Canandaigua Walk to End Alzheimer's raises funds to fight the disease.
CANANDAIGUA — As a few hundred people — many donning purple — started their march away from the Granger Homestead and down Granger Street, organizers of the Alzheimer’s Association's Walk to End Alzheimer’s jingled purple bells and cheered them on.
“This is what we long for,” said Teresa Galbier, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, Rochester and Finger Lakes Region. “This is the vibe.”
Approximately 500 people on Saturday participated in the walk, the fifth walk organized by the regional branch of the Alzheimer’s Association during its fundraising season that began in September.
According to Galbier, coming into Saturday’s Walk, approximately $380,000 had been raised through by the organization regionally — funds that will go toward advance care, support and research worldwide.
When the season ends in December, the hope is to reach $450,000 to $500,000, she said. Last year, more than 600 walks took place across the country and approximately $77 million was raised nationwide for the Alzheimer’s Association, making it the largest fundraiser in the world, Galbier said.
“The importance of this event is that you realize that you’re not alone,” she said.
Palmyra resident and walker Llisa Spencer lost her mother to complications of Alzheimer’s disease in February. Lynn Spencer was 65 when she passed away.
“It was hard to see her diminish in front of our eyes,” Llisa Spencer said. “It’s a double grieving process. You first lose the person that they were and then when they actually pass away, you lose their physical self.”
Lynn Spencer had the disease for approximately 10 years before she passed away. Llisa Spencer pointed out that as the years progressed with the disease, her mother didn’t necessarily know family members by name, but she still recalled emotion that came with their presence.
“A few weeks before she died, she was in the hospital. … She looked up at me and said, ‘I’m going to love you forever,’” Llisa Spencer said. “I’ll never forget that. I feel like that was her way of saying goodbye to us.”
The Palmyra resident was there on Saturday to push to instill hope for others.
“I want to do my best to keep families from suffering the way that we did,” she said. “I want to find an end to this disease and I want to keep my mom’s fight alive.”
The Alzheimer’s Association of Rochester and Finger Lakes Region serves nine counties, including Ontario, Wayne, Monroe, Yates, Seneca, Chemung, Livingston, Schuyler and Steuben counties. For more information, visit www.alzorg/rochesterny or call 585-760-5400.