The rates of people living with and dying from Alzheimer’s disease are expected to rise, locally and nationally, in the next decade, prompting advocates to spread awareness on the need for research and treatment funding.
More than 300 people are registered for Saturday’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s event at the N.J. Motorsports Park in Millville. Participants will raise money for research and honor loved ones who have lived with the deteriorating brain disease.
Individuals and teams have raised more than $26,000 so far with a goal of $62,000. A ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. and the walk will start at 9:30 a.m. People can register online or in person after 8 a.m. on event day.
Nearly 30,000 people in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties are affected by Alzheimer’s or a related disorder, according to the association’s Delaware Valley Chapter. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
Experts predict the number of New Jersey residents aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s will go from 170,000 last year to 210,000 by 2025.
The Medicaid costs of caring for residents with Alzheimer’s disease reached $1.9 million in 2016.
The disease took the lives of 1,812 New Jerseyans in 2013.
Joanne Downey, a top fundraiser for the Millville event, lost her father, Joseph Leonardo, to the disease on Dec. 27. On her fundraising page, Downey said even though her efforts are too late to benefit her father, she hopes her advocacy will help other families struggling with Alzheimer’s.
“Watching this disease take away my hero every day was the most heartbreaking experience in my life,” she wrote.
James Hammond, another top fundraiser for the event, and his team, Rosie’s Crabs, has raised nearly $8,000 over six years for the Alzheimer’s Association. His mother, Rose Hammond, was diagnosed with the disease in 2004 and lived with it for six years before dying in February 2011, he said.
“My mom enjoyed many things, but one of the things she looked forward to most was summer so she could go to the shore and go crabbing. This is why I formed the team Rosie’s Crabs,” Hammond wrote. “I am making it a point to do this every year in hopes that one day a cure is found!”