LIBERTY — As of Wednesday, Sept. 4, the first 2019 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Liberty has already raised almost $42,000. The first-time goal of $25,000 was surpassed last week and now there are 490 participants and 72 teams for the Saturday, Sept. 7 walk.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. There will be a ceremony at 9 a.m. with the walk at 9:15 a.m. at the Liberty Community Center, 1600 S. Withers Road.

Juliette Bradley, Heart of America Chapter spokeswoman, said the local organization has been adding more walks. Initially, the largest walks have been in Kansas City and St. Joseph. A walk was added in Manhattan, Kansas last year and this year, the Midwest chapter added walks in Lawrence, Kansas and Liberty.

“People do travel to the Kansas City walk and we know these communities are big enough to support a walk,” Bradley said. “Starting in Liberty, we weren’t sure what we would get, but we have surpassed the goal we set for the first year.”

Bradley said the walk helps show how the Alzheimer’s association can reach into the community.

“The Alzheimer’s Association can get social workers out into the communities,” she said. “It’s free of charge. They can be part of support groups, plus we offer a hotline number. We like to let people know about our website at least. The worst thing to hear is that these services exist and that I could have been part of a support group. There’s a stigma attached to Alzheimer’s and we aim to reduce that. It’s about getting people aware and learn how we can help.”

Gina Bowman is part of the organizing committee. She is currently the No. 1 individual fundraiser and leads the group Friends of Gina, which is currently first in the team competition, too.

“I’ve been involved in the Alzheimer’s Association for years,” she said. “My mother was diagnosed 16 years ago. My grandmother and uncle also dealt with Alzheimer’s, too. There are so many people who have been touched by Alzheimer’s.”

Initially, Bowman worked with the policy arm called Alzheimer’s Action Impact, bringing to light the need for governmental changes and support.

“I know I can put people together,” she said. “I have a lot of friends and colleagues. I was surprised Liberty has never been a participant with a walk. There are a lot of dear friends who want to participate. I want people to know there are great resources that can help a family member or friend who has Alzheimer’s. It’s going to be a sea of purple with everyone in their purple shirts.”

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