The Galveston/Bay Area Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held Oct. 9 at Stewart Beach Pavilion in Galveston. Sign up begins at 8 a.m. and the 5K walk begins at 9 a.m. Participants may walk as far as they like.

Children and pets are welcome, too. Across the country, there will be over 44,000 teams walking to end Alzheimer’s. Please go to alz.org/walk, find the Galveston walk, and sign up or form a team.

During the past year, a committee of local community volunteers, led by the Houston/Southeast Chapter Alzheimer’s Association, has been planning the walk. Sponsors have donated money, teams have been formed and fundraising has been underway.

Our goal this year is to raise $340,000. Edward Jones, our national presenting sponsor, has been involved from the start, and we can’t thank them enough for their support and involvement.

Personally, my wife and I have been participating in the walk for six years through our Galveston Rotary Club Team. It has been a privilege to meet so many wonderful members of our community during this process. This cause is personal to me because my mother and my mother-in-law both died with the disease.

My wife and I supported both of our fathers as they navigated their newfound caregiver role through trying and difficult times. However, we all acknowledge that there’s so much living to do after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and we had some very special times together as a family as our mothers battled the disease.

It’s so important to surround yourself with a supportive community to help your loved one with Alzheimer’s. It’s also a necessity to get a formal diagnosis if there are symptoms because it allows professionals to determine a course of treatment different from other causes of dementia.

Learning appropriate skills can provide a caregiver with tools to deal with frustrating and repetitive behaviors. Appreciating and understanding the stress a caregiver is under and finding help from a qualified counselor or support group helps to normalize the feelings associated with caring for a person with Alzheimer’s.

Through our walk and Alzheimer’s Association contributions, we’ve been able to partner with the University of Texas Medical Branch and award the hospital over $300,000 for research grants to support the projects of Drs. Balaji Krishnan, Yogesh Wairkar and Giulio Taglialatela all at the Mitchell Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases.

In our community, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Libbie’s Place are valuable resources for help. Outside the community, the Alzheimer’s Association is a national organization that has invested more than $405 million in best-in field research projects globally since 1982. Seventy-eight percent of funds go to care, support, research, awareness and advocacy; 18 percent to fundraising; and 4 percent to administrative costs. The association operates a 24-hour hotline at 800-272-3900 and there are countless resources available.

So, please join us Oct. 9. We intend to celebrate the hard work of all caregivers, fundraisers and patients dealing with this disease.

Jim Byrom is chair of the Galveston/Bay Area Walk to End Alzheimer’s campaign.

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