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Walk for an Alzheimer's cure in Park City Saturday

Park City's Walk to End Alzheimer's
Walk to End Alzheimer's
Park City's Walk to End Alzheimer's

Help raise awareness for a cure to Alzheimer's disease and join the Park City Walk to End Alzheimer's on Saturday at the Basin Rec Field House.

Park City's Walk to End Alzheimer's fund-raising goal is $171,000 this year. Event Chair Steve Spaulding said they are on course to hit that goal.

They've got 300 people signed up and hope many more will join. The route is a two-mile round trip from the field house along the Swaner Preserve path to the small white barn on SR 224, then back. Spaulding said the walk is accessible to all ages and abilities.

"The kids, dogs, cats, and we want it to be easy for kids," said Spaulding. "In fact, you know, sometimes we've even had caretakers bring folks who are suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia. They bring them in, and they'll push them in a wheelchair, so we want it to be accessible and easy for everybody."

Registration starts at 9 A.M. A flower ceremony begins at 10, with the walk starting at about 10:15.

Spaulding said they use different colors of flowers to represent the many ways Alzheimer’s affects people and their loved ones.

"We have flowers for people who are caretakers, flowers for people who are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's, flowers for people who've had somebody pass away from Alzheimer's," Spaulding said. "And then we have a white flower, one white flower. And that is for the first survivor, in the future obviously, the first survivor of Alzheimer's, the first person to overcome Alzheimer's."

Spaulding said an Alzheimer's or dementia diagnosis could be financially and psychologically devastating.  

"There are a lot of family members, a lot of unpaid caretakers who have to give up other parts of their life", Spaulding said. "They can't work. Their social lives deteriorate."

Moriah Mason is the development manager with Utah Alzheimer's Association. She said Alzheimer's is the fourth leading cause of death in Utah and sixth in the nation.

Mason said Alzheimer's and dementia are not inevitable with aging.

"But at the University of Utah, Mason said, one groundbreaking study that's used around the world, is the importance of high blood pressure and keeping that down because having high blood pressure does increase your risk for cognitive decline later on in life."

Mason said moderate exercise three times a week, short walks and balancing exercises are all important in preventing Alzheimer's. Low income, stress, insufficient sleep, and poor nutrition indicate a higher incidence of Alzheimer's.

Finally, Mason said staying mentally active and maintaining social connections are excellent ways to reduce the risks of contracting the disease.

To learn more about Saturday's Alzheimer's walk, find links in the online version of this report on KPCW.org.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.