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Walk to End Alzheimer’s comes to Peconic Landing

The Alzheimer’s Association will hold its first North Fork Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Peconic Landing in Greenport on Sunday, Aug. 6, at 9 a.m. 

Open to participants of all ages and fitness levels, the event shines a light on those affected by the disease — from patients to caregivers — and raises funds for the Alzheimer’s Association, a global organization that provides care and support and strives to advance research to end the illness.

According to the association’s website, over 6 million Americans — including more than 400,000 New Yorkers — live with Alzheimer’s, a disease that not only erodes the memory, but can prove fatal, most commonly through aspiration pneumonia, which occurs when a patient inhales food particles, liquid or gastric fluids due to difficulty swallowing.

“Here in our health center, we see the profound impact that Alzheimer’s and dementia have on individuals and their families,” Jennifer Drofenik, director of health services at Peconic Landing and a volunteer community educator for the association, said in a statement. “It is so important that these individuals have access to the resources and support they need. Not only do the funds we raise support those currently living with the disease, they also bring us one step closer to a cure and a world without Alzheimer’s.”

Events like the one coming to Peconic Landing end with a Promise Garden ceremony, during which participants plant an artificial flower of a specific color that represents their personal connection to the disease, which plagues more than 400,000 New Yorkers, plus more than 500,000 caregivers. Walkers plant purple flowers if they’ve lost someone to Alzheimer’s, blue if they are living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, yellow if they are a caregiver for someone with the illness or orange if they are a supporter without a direct connection to Alzheimer’s.

Nancy Chandler, board chairperson of the Alzheimer’s Association’s Long Island chapter, described the ceremony by saying, “I cry every year at the Promise Garden … When you look at the sea of flowers and see all the people affected, it is a very uplifting and emotional moment.” 

The Alzheimer’s Association launched the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s in 1989, and it has since become one of the world’s largest fundraisers for the disease, offering hope to many families enduring its toll. More than 600 walks are held each year in communities across the U.S. 

“We’re closer than ever to stopping Alzheimer’s,” said Judy Wichter, associate director of development for the organization’s Long Island chapter. “We hope that everyone in our community can join us at this inaugural event to help the Alzheimer’s Association raise awareness and funds for families facing the disease today, take more steps toward treatments and finally end this disease.”

To register and donate to the North Fork’s first Walk to End Alzheimer’s, visit peconiclanding.org/events.