Walking Together: Muscatine Walk to End Alzheimer’s Unites Community to Fight Disease

WEA organizers holding up each color of flower during the Promise Garden Ceremony. A volunteer holds up a blue flower on behalf of Cliff Warner, who has Alzheimer's, Marla Brogly holds up a yellow flower because she cares for her mother with Alzheimer's, C. J. Ryan holds up a purple flower because he lost his mother to Alzheimer's, and Brandi Behrens holds up an orange flower because she supports the WEA. Megan Francis's daughter (center) holds a white flower to symbolize hope for the first survivor.

On Saturday, August 10th, people from all walks of life came together to make Muscatine’s first Walk to End Alzheimer’s (WEA) a success. Though each of the many walkers who turned out did so for their own reasons, the group collectively raised awareness about Alzheimer’s and money to help find a cure for it.


This year, Michelle Kelman, Senior Development Specialist for the Southeast Iowa Division of the Alzheimer’s Association, explained that local organizers felt the time had come for Muscatine to host its own WEA. “We were just talking; we knew that the area was passionate about helping causes, so we thought it would be a great fit for a walk” she stated.


The Muscatine community certainly stepped up to fill Kelman’s expectations. Although Muscatine had never held a WEA before, 110 people, including seventeen teams, registered, exceeding organizers expectations. Together these dedicated people raised $12,844, approximately half of their goal for the year (fundraising for the WEA stays open after the event, all the way until December). Kelman felt impressed by how much people from around Muscatine got behind the walk. “I think it’s great. This is a wonderful community with a lot of support,” she said.


The day of the event, the WEA featured many events to celebrate walkers’ achievements and to remind everyone of the importance of working towards a cure for Alzheimer’s. During registration at the Red Brick Building (Pearl City Station) children could enjoy face painting and games. People of all ages could snack on breakfast treats as well as pick up information about Alzheimer’s Association programming in the area.


Once registration finished and everyone had stretched and prepared for the walk, several speakers energized walkers and reminded them why their efforts mattered. During this time, the WEA committee announced the top fundraising individual and team (Matt Fletcher with $1,265 and Roger’s AlzStars with $3,965 respectively) and congratulated them on how their donations will truly help fund Alzheimer’s research.


Of especial note, Muscatine County Sheriff C. J. Ryan shared his story about caring for his mother as she fought Alzheimer’s. He spoke about how holding onto the good memories he had made with his mother helped him stay strong for her as she fought Alzheimer’s. “You have to remember who your loved one really was, because they can’t. And, they’ll change. And, they won’t remember things. And, they won’t remember you. And, that will hurt. And, always remember that’s not their fault.” Ryan’s powerful words energized walkers to keep fighting back against Alzheimer’s and to continue working towards a cure.


Before walkers started their trip down the riverfront, everyone participated in a flower ceremony to honor their reason for walking. Each walker placed an orange, yellow, blue, or purple flower pinwheel in a Promise Garden behind the Red Brick Building. Organizers also placed one white flower to symbolize how one day, the efforts of those in Muscatine and around the country will find a cure for Alzheimer’s and that one day, people will survive the disease.