Islanders walk to end Alzheimer’s

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 5:00pm

With their colorful pinwheels held aloft, more than 70 Block Island residents took part in the first-ever Block Island Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease, a fundraising event they hope will lead to medical breakthroughs that will cure the illness.

Each pinwheel represented what is called a “promise color.” Carrying a purple flower means that you have lost someone to Alzheimer’s; yellow means that you are a caregiver; blue means that you are living with Alzheimer’s; and orange means that you support the Alzheimer’s Association.

Each color was represented by a Block Island team on Sunday, Sept. 22.

The walk was kicked off by Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, who stood on the deck of the Fred Benson Beach Pavilion and said, “It’s shining out here on Block Island!” McKee said that more than five million Americans were living with the disease, with 23,000 diagnosed cases in Rhode Island. “It’s destroying our families, our futures, and our finances.” Members of the island’s Senior Advisory Committee were out in full force. One of the signature programs of the SAC has been trying to create a support system that will allow the island’s elder population to stay on the island and “age in place.”

Donna Kirwan, Communications Manager for the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Alzheimer’s Associaton, said that “Alzheimer’s is the number five cause of death in Rhode Island.” As of now, she said, “it can’t be cured, prevented, or slowed.”

Kirwin mentioned those who helped organize the Block Island Walk: Peter and Sandy Greenman, Molly O’Neill, Christine Grele, Gloria Redlich, Sandy Kelly, Bud Martin, Diane Hayde, Jennifer Phillips, and Gail Peirce.

“The finish line,” said Kirwan, “Is the end of Alzheimer’s.”

McKee and state Sen. Susan Sosnowski then introduced each of the Block Island teams. “One day we will end this disease,” said McKee, “And we will end it together. We all have a reason for being here today. I’m marching for your loved ones and you’re marching for mine.”

“Alzheimer’s is not going to back down, and neither should we,” said Sosnowski.