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First Person Experience: Memory Walk brings needed research funds

Sponsored by Wells Fargo, the 17th annual Los Angeles Memory Walk was held in Downtown Los Angeles on Grand Avenue just outside of the Water Court Plaza on Sunday to fight Alzheimer’s disease. Participants in the Memory Walk support the families who are affected by this disease. According to the Memory Walk Foundation, the event raised $539,423. / photo by Cindy Harder

Sponsored by Wells Fargo, the 17th annual Los Angeles Memory Walk was held in Downtown Los Angeles on Grand Avenue just outside of the Water Court Plaza on Sunday to fight Alzheimer’s disease. Participants in the Memory Walk support the families who are affected by this disease. According to the Memory Walk Foundation, the event raised $539,423. / photo by Cindy Harder

Xenia Martinez
Staff Writer

As a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority, I attended the annual Alzheimer’s Memory Walk in Los Angeles Saturday, which kicked off Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

I was among 326 participants, 40 from Sigma Kappa alone, raising more than $500,000 for Alzheimer’s research. The sorority alone raised about $400. Alzheimer’s research is one of Sigma Kappa’s philanthropic causes.

More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, which begins with loss of memory and ravages the brain leading ultimately to total incapacitation.

The two mile walking event was also a chance to introduce new members to this important cause and the way we operate.

“I feel that this is something very productive … a good cause,” senior Sigma Kappa member, Caitlin Harchut said, adding that it was nice to see how many showed up to support the effort the morning after Halloween.

“I had so much fun. I got to spend time with my new sisters,” freshman Sigma Kappa member, Tamlyn Tarango said. “I look forward to doing it next year, we acted so silly and made this into a very festive event.”

Walkers grabbed breakfast snacks and water bottles just prior to the event, which began at 9 a.m in downtown Los Angeles near the Water Court Plaza and Grand Street.

Besides sorority women, the event attracted a varity of other participants. Teams of supporters walked to help fund this critical research. Some taped signs reading “In memory of …” on their backs.

Families wore custom-made shirts with the pictures of loved ones lost to Alzheimer’s.
Some walked in groups as large as 10.

“It felt so good walking and hearing people chanting with their group, it felt very … positive,” said Sarah Vasquez, a sophomore member of Sigma Kappa.

Streets were closed down for the event. Police officers stood at every corner guarding the course. People took pictures and laughed while they walked.

Most participants walked, but a few ran the two-mile urban course. A free T-shirt was given out to those who raised more than $100. Amongst those was member of Sigma Kappa, Natalie Yahnke, a junior.

“I was excited when I got the shirt. It’s funny because I sent a mass email to my family members and asked for donations,” Yahnke said.

“If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right,” Yahnke said.

The streets filled with people made us feel proud to participate. Music was played and gifts – such as pencils, water bottles and bags – were given out at the end to reward the walkers for their effort.

Xenia Martinez can be reached at xenia.martinez@laverne.edu.

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