The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event to raise funds for Alzheimer’s awareness, care, support and research.  Held annually in more than 600 communities nationwide this inspiring event calls on participants of all ages and abilities to reclaim the future of millions.  Alzheimer’s disease is the nation’s sixth leading cause of death.


First named the Memory Walk, this event began in 1989 with nine Alzheimer’s Association chapters raising $149,000 from 1,249 participants.  In 1993 Memory Walk grew into an event nationwide and raised $4.5 million at 167 locations. In 2014 more than 49,000 teams participated in more than 600 Walks across the country, raising more than $67 million.  The Alzheimer’s Association has mobilized millions of Americans in the fight against the disease and now continues to lead the way..

Along with individual walkers, the association encourages people to form teams, usually recommending teams of 8 – 12; however there is not required number of people.  Teams are asked to tell their friends, family and coworkers why they are walking and ask them to join them.  The organizers encourage participants to reach out to friends and family via e-mail and social media to encourage support and donations

Teams come up with creative names; a few to mention are Marilyn’s Mighty Memory Makers, Early Stage Warriors, A Walk to Remember and Ruthie’s Angels.  Many teams are named in honor of a loved one who suffers from the disease.  Some teams manage to get way more than the recommended 8 to 12 participants.  One notable team this year is Bill’s Buddies out of Columbus Ohio with a whopping 194 members, they overtook their goal of raising $50,000 and have to date raised $57455.  Many teams have touching stories such as team #12 captained by Seattle Seahawks’ J.R. Sweezy who has a side other than the tough offensive guard most people know.  J.R’s grandfather Papaw Gene, a successful businessman was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease nine Years ago.  After seeing his maternal grandfather’s drastic decline last April, J.R and Gissell decided to create the #12’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s team. “If we are raising money and have the right people researching and understanding maybe we will find a cure one day” said J.R. “I want to raise awareness from coast to coast.  We’re helping now for the future.  It’s too late for Papaw Gene, but not for our kids.  J.R. only gets to visit his Papaw two or three times per year, but even now in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Papaw Gene will sometimes ask “Is that the boy that plays football?”

Other fund raising events to raise awareness and donations to fight Alzheimer’s

The Rita Hayworth Gala

In 1980 actress and dancer Rita Hayworth was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which contributed to her death in 1987 at age 68.  The public disclosure and discussion of her illness drew international attention to Alzheimer’s, a disease that had been virtually forgotten by the medical community since its discovery in 1906. , and helped to greatly increase public and private funding for Alzheimer’s research.  The Rita Hayworth Gala, a benefit for the Alzheimer Association, is held annually in Chicago and New York City.  The program was founded in May 1985 by Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, in honor of her mother.  She is the hostess for the events and a major sponsor of Alzheimer’s disease charities and awareness programs.  As of August 2015 a total of more than $65 million had been raised through these events

A Night at Sardi’s

A night at Sardi’s is an event started in 1992 by Laurie Burrows Grad in memory of her father, writer and directory Abe Burrows, who died from Alzheimer’s disease.  The evening of entertainment with many television stars has raised over $16 million for the Los Angeles Alzheimer’s Association.  The benefit is chaired by Lauri Grad and her husband, Peter Grad, former executive vice president of 20th Century Fox Television

Memories in the making

This year’s Memories in the Making art auction featured 53 treasured watercolor pieces, all painted by individuals with Alzheimer’s and raised more than $150,000 to help the Chapter continue to offer services and resources for individuals with Alzheimer’s, their families and caregivers.

Blondes vs. Brunettes

Blondes vs. Brunettes is an annual women’s flag football game in which the two participant teams are divided based on the age old rivalry between blondes and brunettes.  Both teams toss their division aside when it comes to their common reason for participating, to raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer Association Heart of America Chapter. The 2015 game was held on August 8th.  The players and coaches raised a combined $48.494, making this year the best fundraising year yet for Blondes vs. Brunettes.

Much more is needed to raise money to fight this terrible disease, these events are just a drop in the bucket, but as more people become aware of the disease and as the baby boomers reach the age where more and more are dealing with Alzheimer’s and other dementia’s, we hope that events to raise awareness will increase exponentially.