050721 Alzheimer's Walk

The Alzheimer’s Association's annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s event will return to an in-person format on Saturday, Oct. 2, in Santa Maria. Walkers dressed in purple gather for a team photo at the 2019 event.

The Alzheimer’s Association's annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s event will return to an in-person format on Saturday, Oct. 2, in Santa Maria after last year's event was modified due to COVID-19. 

Walkers had the option last year to participate virtually or within residential neighborhoods. Those options will again be offered this year, in addition to the group walk, to maximize participation, according to a spokeswoman for the association. 

“It has been a time of isolation for many of our families, and I know this year’s Walk will truly be a celebration of being able to gather again for a cause we all believe in: a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia,” said Sonya Branco, director of development for the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter.

Despite changes to last year's event due to the pandemic, more than $67 million was raised in more than 600 participating communities across the country, benefitting Alzheimer’s care, support and research programs. Of that total, the Santa Maria Walk raised $36,952, the spokeswoman said.

Each year, local volunteers, led by a planning committee chair, organize the event. 

This year's Santa Maria Walk committee will be led by Chair Lori Alexander, whose mother was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia five years ago.

Alexander said sharing the story of her family's struggle with the disease and its devastating impacts is one way to help garner awareness and bring attention to available resources.

“The Alzheimer’s Association support groups have been the most helpful thing to me, and I’m ready to make a difference for others,” Alexander said. “Even if I can help just one family that is struggling with their loved one, that is why I’m doing this.”

Logistics Chair Donald Bock, who has served on the event committee for eight years, has been participating in the Walk for 10 years as captain of team Santa Maria Lions Club. He said he is especially excited to get walking alongside the community once again.

“Community participation is not only integral to the Walk, but it generates the necessary enthusiasm for caregivers to continue in their service of providing assistance to those suffering with this insidious disease,” Bock said.

The planning committee currently is seeking compassionate and caring volunteers to play a leadership role in this year’s Santa Maria Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

To join the committee or to be part of the event, visit act.alz.org/santamaria.

For questions and support, visit alz.org/CaCentralCoast or call the 24/7 helpline at 800-272-3900.

Lisa André covers lifestyles and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record.