Hundreds of Flagler County residents assembled together in unison for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s two-mile walk on Saturday, Sept. 24, at Veterans Park.
As the pre-walk ceremony took place, tears flooded the gathering, as many family members, friends and caregivers mourned the loss of their loved ones. Those in attendance shared stories providing care for their loved ones while others discussed the difficulty of watching family members digress in their later years due to the disease.
Kathy’s Butterflies made its presence known by handing out purple wristbands with pink butterflies and the name Kathy Hamilton with her 1951-2016 lifespan written on. She was the mother of Jessica and Sam Snowden, who lost her battle with Alzheimer’s on June 11.
“We took care of her for the last two years of her life, and it was rough seeing a registered nurse turn into a 5-year-old,” Jessica said. “Watching her lose her memory was very hard. We had to pay the bills and help her take a shower. They (Alzheimer’s victims) lose the steps of taking a shower.”
When asked what she would remember most about her mother, Sam said, “Just life in general. She gave and did everything for her children.”
This year the Alzheimer’s Association’s Central and North Florida Chapter are seeking to raise over $80,000 in Flagler County for community programs and research in and around the area to help families and their loved ones manage through the illness, and it has currently raised $53,730. Kathy’s Butterflies is ranked as the third-highest fundraiser group for this chapter.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., and it is the only in the Top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed. There are more than 15.9 million caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the country. In 2015, these caregivers provided an estimated 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care valued at $221.3 billion.