Walk to Fight Alzheimer’s helps New Jersey families affected by disease

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Princeton is once again part of a statewide effort to raise awareness and support for residents impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

This weekend Princeton will be one of five communities raising funds for individuals and families dealing with the disease, when non-profit Alzheimer’s New Jersey returns its annual Walk to Fight Alzheimer’s event on Oct. 13.

“The walk that we do in Mercer County is probably our oldest walk. I would say it goes back about 30 years,” said Ken Zaentz, president and CEO of Alzheimer’s New Jersey. “It started out as a picnic for support group leaders a long time ago and eventually became a walk. I believe this is one of the first walks this organization did at that time.”

Officials estimate that between 800-1,000 people participate in the Princeton walk each year.

Princeton’s walk is the only one in Mercer County, but joins Morristown, Point Pleasant, Jersey City and Paramus in their efforts across the state.

“We consider ourselves to be a community organization and the walks are really community events. The interesting thing about that is how the walks have their roots in people who were experiencing family members who had the disease,” Zaentz said. “Coming together, finding each other and supporting one another – these walks grew from a grassroots informal event to the formal one we have today.”

All of the walks combined in 2018 raised $700,000.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a public health epidemic. I think the amount of money we are able to raise speaks to the need and commitment of people in New Jersey,” Zaentz said.

According to Alzheimer’s New Jersey, the funds raised went to programs and support resources for 600,000 residents in the state.

“The walks are an opportunity for people to raise awareness about the needs of families that are impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. Being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be very isolating,” Zaentz said. “These walks are just a demonstration of how many people are impacted. The fact that the walks are growing unfortunately showcases that the number of people affect by the disease is growing in New Jersey.”

He said the walks help the communities know there are resources available and an organization that is there to help.

“We provide a telephone hotline for supportive guidance. We train support group leaders and have support groups,” Zaentz said. “We also provide a wellness and respite care program. Our organization also has education and awareness raising programs available.”

For more information on the walks or to register for the 2019 walks, visit www.alznj.org.