Participants will walk as individuals, families or small teams across Central Coast

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The Alzheimer’s Association is inviting SLO County residents to join the fight to end Alzheimer’s by participating in its largest signature fundraising event of the year, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday, Oct. 31.

This year, to keep walkers, staff and volunteers safe, the Alzheimer’s Association encourages participants to walk as individuals or in small groups on sidewalks, tracks and trails across their local communities. 

“This year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be everywhere,” said Lindsey Leonard, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Coast Chapter. “The pandemic is changing how we walk, but it doesn’t change the need to walk. This year, more than ever, we need to come together to support all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementia. With the dollars raised, the Alzheimer’s Association can continue to provide care and support to nearly 3,000 local families during these difficult times while also advancing critical research toward methods of treatment and prevention.”

For Val Ferrero, Vice-Chair of the SLO Walk Committee, this will be her third Walk to End Alzheimer’s since the death of her husband, Lee. Val and Lee both became extremely involved with the Alzheimer’s Association following his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Together, they have built many fond memories of the Walk. 

“This year’s challenges are enormous, but nobody’s given up,” said Val. “It’s just another challenge in the world of Alzheimer’s. We are a community in San Luis Obispo — if we all reach out together to help one another, we can do it. We will do it.”

While this year’s Walk may look different, participants are committed to the cause. 

Kathy Brown is walking this year in honor of her husband, Craig, who passed away at age 64 in 2018 after battling Younger Onset Alzheimer’s. To raise money for her Walk team and celebrate her wedding anniversary with Craig on Oct. 14, she held an Italian feast fundraiser. After making and selling food for pickup all day, Kathy was able to raise $2,000. 

Brandon Tokanoga also found success in the kitchen with his fundraiser for this year’s Walk. Instead of hosting his annual local art show, Art Against Alzheimer’s, Brandon sold over 450 homemade steamed bao buns with the help of his mother, Lydia, and raised over $2,500. Brandon is walking with Lydia and other close family and friends as part of Team Tokanoga in honor of his father, who passed away from the disease in 2007.

On Walk day, walkers can view a virtual Opening Ceremony featuring keynote speaker Jean Steel of Happy People Win. After walking, participants are invited to safely experience the view-only Promise Flower Garden, located at Creston Village in Paso Robles. Flowers will be planted in different colors, honoring the personal reasons participants join together to fight Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. 

To commemorate the Walk taking place on Halloween, participants are invited to elevate their purple Walk attire by dressing up in costumes as they walk through their communities. A costume photo contest will be hosted on the chapter Facebook page (@AlzCaCentral) for prizes. 

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s National Presenting Sponsors are CVS Health and Edward Jones, which renewed its $25 million, 5-year strategic alliance with the Association. 

The San Luis Obispo Walk is proud to be locally sponsored by Elite Sponsor: Central Coast Home Health and Hospice and Select Sponsors: Guided Aging, Westmont Living, and Creston Village. Media sponsors include La M 107.3 and Cumulus Media: 95.1 KBBY, 100.7 KHAY, 103.3 KRUZ, Sports Radio 1450 AM, and The Vibe 106.3.

This year’s SLO Walk To End Alzheimer’s Committee is lead by Charmaine and Brian Peterson as Co-Chairs and Val Ferrero as Vice-Chair, along with their hardworking and dedicated committee including Rayleen Moran, Lisa Marie Frantz, Holly Markoff, Lydia Tokunaga, Jenny Molinar, Stephanie Hamilton, Laura DeLoye, Judy Freeman, Virginia Smith, Kathy Brown, Kyle Peterson and Neile O’keefe. 

“Alzheimer’s is not taking a hiatus during COVID-19 and neither are we,” said Sonya Branco, development director at the California Central Coast Chapter. “We must continue the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and we are working with all participants to ensure they have a powerful and moving experience that is felt when we are together. Many of our constituents are at higher risk when it comes to COVID-19 and we know that our volunteers and participants appreciate our commitment to keeping all involved healthy and safe.”

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease — the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, more than 16 million family members and friends provide care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In California alone, there are more than 690,000 people living with the disease and 1,624,000 caregivers. 

To register and receive the latest updates on this year’s Walk to End Alzheimers, visit: act.alz.org/slo.

To become involved as a Walk Sponsor, Team Captain or Walk Donor, or to learn more about Alzheimer’s Association, contact Sonya Branco at sbranco@alz.org.

Visit alz.org or call 800-272-3900, for more information.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles