LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Nov. 27, 2013) – The Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association has hit the $1 million fundraising mark for the first time in its history.
“More than 8,600 people across the commonwealth and Southern Indiana helped us blow away records from previous years’ walks,” said Teri Shirk, president and CEO of the chapter, “raising 19 percent more money, gathering 21 percent more teams and bringing out 41 percent more individual participants than in 2012. We reached or exceeded our goals in nearly all of our markets, and we set very aggressive – but also very reachable – targets. This final week of walk season, we’re encouraging teams and individuals across the entire chapter’s service area to consider commemorative holiday donation gifts so we can continue to meet the growing need for the services and programs we provide.”
The Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter held 12 Walk to End Alzheimer’s events in September and October 2013. Funds raised through the walks make up about 45 percent of the chapter’s annual $2.2 million budget, which is used to support programs for individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s, a 24-hour hotline (800-272-3900), professional training, and research toward prevention, treatments and a cure.
Growth in the area chapter’s walk participation and fundraising efforts reflects greater awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as Alzheimer’s Association statistics that show dramatic growth in the number of people who will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s unless a cure is found, said Shirk.
“With greater awareness often comes earlier diagnosis and reduced stigma associated with the disease,” she said. “More people recognize the potential symptoms and seek out medical advice, and doctors are increasingly less reluctant to diagnose Alzheimer’s than in the past. We still don’t have a cure, or even a treatment that slows progression of the disease through the brain, but earlier diagnosis means that the drugs we do have for treating symptoms are more effective. Moreover, increasing fundraising success will eventually lead to that breakthrough we need, so there is hope today.”
Shirk also said that increased awareness of Alzheimer’s disease has changed the makeup of the people who participate in the area chapter’s support group meetings, training seminars and healthcare and financial planning sessions. “As recently as a few years ago, it was rare to see people who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s taking advantage of the programming we offer. This year, we worked with caregivers and family members as we always have, but we also welcomed more than a hundred persons who actually have the disease at local programming sessions, and many of those individuals attended regularly.”
Among the most recently added programs are Memory Cafés. The Memory Café program in Louisville, a collaboration between the Alzheimer’s Association and the University of Louisville School of Nursing that meets on the last Monday of each month at the association’s offices in Kaden Tower, has “become a social gathering where participants talk not only about the disease, but also about other aspects of their lives,” Shirk said. “They’re building a network of friends with similar interests, and there’s no judgment.”
The chapter also offers Memory Cafés in Lexington and Evansville. For a full list of the chapter’s programming in specific areas or for other information about Alzheimer’s disease, visit alz.org/kyin/. To donate to one of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s events with the chapter’s region, visit alz.org/walk, and click on the appropriate state.