Great fun for a great cause is being promised at the 9th Annual Alzheimer’s Family Support Walk, presented by The Alzheimer’s Family Organization (AFO) and Parady Financial on March 13 at The Villages Polo Field, 703 Buena Vista Blvd, The Villages.
This year’s event will pair enjoyable event mainstays such as spirited walking teams and a golf cart rally with a special new virtual option. Yet at the heart of the event lies a vital, highly relevant cause.
Alzheimer’s Family Organization is a local 501 c 3 non-profit that services 8 West-Central Florida counties including Hernando. The mission of the Alzheimer’s Family Organization is “For all those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, and their caregivers, to have a better quality of life.” For the past 20 years, this nonprofit agency has provided a full spectrum of services to families touched by Alzheimer’s in eight Tampa Bay counties. Their services include caregiver learning, caregiver companion newsletter, pardon my companion cards, respite care financial reimbursement program, wanderer’s reunification program, speaking engagements, and support groups.
For nearly half of the organization’s history, the Alzheimer’s Family Support Walk has garnered needed funds to fight the disease that strikes more than 3 million people per year. And this support is never more needed, than now.
“The funds will be used to support keeping the organization in business. As you recall Covid-19 really hit us hard and closed our brick and mortar,” said Kathleen Winters, MS, LN, AFO Executive Director. “We have been maintaining ourselves and have four of us still on staff, working out of our homes.”
Now more than ever, the organization relies on community fund-raisers for support; events that help them to help others.
“As we do not receive federal, state, or local government funding, we rely on fundraising and donations as our means to keep providing educational and support services to caregivers and their loved ones,” said Winters.
The family support walk–which Parady has supported for 8 of its 9 years–ranks among the most popular of these fund-raisers, with more than 800 walkers participating last year in its 1/4 or 1.5-mile legs.
For the occasion of the 9th Annual Alzheimer’s Family Support Walk, registration opens at 8 a.m. with opening ceremonies starting at 9:00 a.m. The walk will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be live-streamed on Facebook for any participant that feels safer attending virtually.
“We offered a “virtual” option for walkers this year and they will register just as an “in-person” attending the event would,” said Winters. “And we will be streaming the event live on Facebook for those participating virtually can be a part of the morning.”
What remains the same is the fun, light-hearted spirit that permeates the walk.
“The Golf Cart Rally is back!” proclaimed an event flier. “It is $5 to enter and the Rally will meet at The Polo Field. Walking Teams are encouraged to sign up in advance. A team consists of a minimum of 10 walkers. Teams can compete for the Most Spirit award with ideas such as funky socks, hats, custom (or vintage) t-shirts, and more! Teams also compete for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place largest teams!.. The day of the event, there will be drawings for some wonderful baskets, so bring your cash or credit cards.”
You can register for this annual event at https://alzheimersfamily.org/villageswalk/ Adult registrations are $20, Juniors (ages 6-12) $10, Child (under age 6) Free. Those who wish to participate can skip the line at the registration table by attending a special pre-registration session 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 12 at New Covenant United Methodist Church Classroom #14 located at 3470 Woodbridge Dr., the Villages. Due to Covid-19 concerns, attendees are encouraged to wear masks and social distance. Hand sanitizing stations will be positioned throughout the pavilion.
As walkers share good fun and great exercise at this event, they’ll be helping countless seniors and families in this area.
“We are grateful to all those that supported us thus far,” said Winters, “and we hope that our largest fundraiser will be a success for us.”