Gastonia Family has many flowers in their garden

When Cindy Welch looks to Walk day, she pinpoints the Promise Garden as her favorite element. Through colored flowers, the Promise Garden represents the diverse reasons participants have gathered to participate. She always loves the visual of all the community’s flowers joining together. Cindy takes her flower home and proudly displays it in front of her house every year and leaves it up as long as it will last. This year, her family will participate in Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Gaston/Cleveland/Lincoln on September 12 with three colors of flowers, representing the multiple ways that dementia has touched her life.

Cindy, a current member of the walk planning committee, had her walk debut several years ago when her niece Maddie suggested they walk to honor Cindy’s mother in law Catherine Welch (Nana, to the family). Alzheimer’s disease is unfortunately not uncommon on both sides of her family, but this diagnosis was still difficult to come to terms with. What started as a small group the first year has grown into a 18+ family team with custom t-shirts and a community of support. “We are so fortunate to have such a supportive family,” shares Cindy. “I certainly pray for those that don’t. I am so thankful for the Association to help those that don’t.”

Cindy remembers her mother in law as outgoing and friendly, going to church every Sunday. Catherine loved her grandchildren and went to all of their baseball games. “She was the sweetest person in the world,” shared Cindy. “In fact, [the disease] probably made her more outgoing. She just loved everybody.” Even through her disease, she remembered every word to every hymn, singing “with her whole heart.” Her cognitive decline was first brushed off as depression but became harder to ignore. “She forgot our names but she always knew we belonged to her,” remembers Cindy.  The family carries a purple flower in memory of Catherine.

Cindy’s community has rallied around her family’s efforts to raise funds in support for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Her niece’s business donates profits, her church is always happy to help, their social media networks are active. Cindy’s family looks to the future with their donations, focusing on research in their community appeals. Their team “Remembering for Nana” is often a top fundraising team! Cindy shares that the Association’s efforts give her hope for the future. She passes on the helpline to anyone that is interested, after seeing the benefits of the Association’s support services first hand. “It gives me strength that someone is out there trying to find a cure for this [disease],” Cindy says.

Last year, Cindy’s walk experience added a new layer of meaning as her father in law was recently diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, a type of progressive dementia that leads to a decline in thinking, reasoning and independent function because of abnormal microscopic deposits that damage brain cells over time. This new fight has renewed her family’s fundraising efforts. Regarding her family history with the disease, she admits that “It is very difficult to already know what is down the road. We never want anyone to go through this pain.” Cindy hopes for a day that dementia is talked about in the past tense, noting that her goodbyes happen a long time before her loved ones pass. This diagnosis adds both yellow flowers (as caregivers) and a blue flower (someone with dementia) to their family garden.

During the Walk’s Promise Garden Ceremony, there is a moment when someone comes out on stage with a white flower to represent the pursuit of Alzheimer’s first survivor. Cindy says she cannot wait for the day to bring a white flower home to join the promise garden flowers of years’ past. She knows Catherine would love to see this representation of her family’s fight to honor such a vibrant soul.

Everyone has a reason for walking. Start your own team or join an existing team for one of our nineteen North Carolina walks:

The world may look a little different right now, but one thing hasn’t changed: our commitment to ending Alzheimer’s.

When you participate in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, you’re part of a community that cares — and that community, which starts in your backyard and stretches across the country, has never needed us more. With the dollars we raise, the Alzheimer’s Association® can provide care and support during these uncertain times while advancing critical research toward methods of treatment and prevention.

Register today at alz.org/walk and be the first to know about Walk in your area.

2020 WALK DATES

Alamance County – 9.26.20
Asheville – 10.10.20
Charlotte – 10.17.20
Fayetteville – 10.31.20
Gaston/Cleveland/Lincoln – 9.12.20
Guilford County – 10.17.20
Henderson County – 9.26.20
Hickory – 10.24.20
Iredell County – 10.10.20
Jacksonville – 10.17.20
Moore County – 9.26.20
Mount Airy – 9.12.20
New Bern – 10.25.20
North Wilkesboro – 10.10.20
Robeson County – 10.24.20
Rowan-Cabarrus – 10.24.20
Triangle (Raleigh-Durham) – 10.10.20
Wilmington – 11.7.20
Winston-Salem – 10.3.20

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