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Hundreds walk in Alexandria to end Alzheimer's

As of Sunday, Sept. 4, the walk to end Alzheimer's disease, which took place at Carlos Creek Winery, raised $37,918. The goal is to raise $55,000.

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A total of 202 participants and 31 teams registered online for the Walk to End Alzheimer's, which took place at Carlos Creek Winery on Sunday, Sept. 4. The total number is expected to be much higher as some registered in person rather than online.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA — Hundreds of participants strolled through the grape vines at Carlos Creek Winery on Sunday, Sept. 4, for the Walk to End Alzheimer's.

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Event participants held up Promise Garden flowers during the opening ceremony to represent a person’s connection to Alzheimer’s. Center to right frame is Oden Lauer, 3, Dana Lauer, 61, Flynn Lauer, 5, and Kevin Lauer, 62. Kevin's mother developed Alzheimer's eight years ago. He and his wife, Dana, have participated in the walk ever since.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Most were sporting purple Walk to End Alzheimer's shirts and carrying colored Promise Garden flowers. Each color represents a specific connection to the disease.

  • Blue represents someone living with Alzheimer's or another dementia.
  • Purple is for those who have lost someone to the disease.
  • Yellow represents someone who is currently supporting or caring for a person living with Alzheimer's.
  • Orange is for those who support the cause and the association's vision of a world without Alzheimer's and all other dementia.
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Lindsey Sarkahlati, right, and her aunt, Karla, speak about their family's battle with a rare, early-onset form of Alzheimer’s disease during the opening ceremony.<br/>
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

The event began with an opening ceremony in the winery's Grand Hall with Joe Korkowski, executive director of Explore Alexandria Tourism, as emcee and speakers from Douglas County sponsors.

Lindsey Sarkahlati and her aunt, Karla, also spoke about their family's fight with a rare, early-onset form of Alzheimer’s disease that occurs in someone's late thirties and early forties.

After the opening ceremony, the crowd of attendees walked just over a mile through the grape vines on the winery's grounds.

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"It is awesome to see so many people. The disease has touched so many people's lives and now they are out here to support in any way they can," said Tim Madson, who lost his mother four years ago to Alzheimer's.

"You just keep pressing on," said Madson's wife, Heidi. "You can't give up. It (the walk) is hopeful."

The Madsons said this was their first walk and they described it as "very well organized."

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Tim Madson, center, raises his purple flower high as he walks next to his wife, Heidi Madson, right. The purple flowers is for those who have lost someone to the disease.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Stacy Hemming of Alexandria said she is impressed with the many resources in Alexandria for those living with Alzheimer's. She said it was awesome to see all the support from the community.

"It is a horrible disease. We need a cure," Hemming said.

Hemming, who attended the event with her sisters and dad, lost her mother to Alzheimer's five years ago.

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Some wrote messages and names of loved ones with Alzheimer's on their Promise Garden flower. This one reads, "We all miss you, Mom. Love, Kevin, Dana, Flynn and Oden. Kevin Lauer's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's eight years ago.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Online numbers for the event show 202 participants and 31 teams registered to walk. And a total of $37,918 has been raised so far.

Jenny Theis, Alzheimer's Association's senior community engagement manager, estimates that the participants and donation numbers are higher because some registered and donated in person rather than online.

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"Alexandria is such a giving community," said Theis. "Last year, we raised $43,000. This year our goal is $55,000. I know we are going to hit that goal."

Final numbers will be calculated later this week but people can continue to donate at act.alz.org/alexandria until Dec. 1 of this year.

According to its website, all funds raised through Walk to End Alzheimer's further the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer's Association.

It's estimated that at least 99,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia in Minnesota alone.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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