Alzheimer’s, often referred to as senile dementia, is the sixth most prevalent cause of death in the United States, according to the statistics published by the Alzheimer’s Association. Each year, the Delta Nu Chapter of the Sigma Kappa Sorority at Longwood University holds a Walk to End Alzheimer’s to raise awareness for this ailment.
Behind Lancaster Hall was a “Promise Garden” holding spinning plastic flowers that the marchers picked up to carry with them.
“I don’t think (the Promise Garden is) necessarily a promise to end Alzheimer’s, but a promise to not stop until we find a cure for Alzheimer’s,” said O’Brien. “Each flower represents your connection to Alzheimer’s.”
Longwood students, alumni and members of various organizations outside of the university came together this past Friday to walk a lap around the campus, making a loop from behind Lancaster Hall at the southern end to Lancer Field at the north.
The annual event is a joint effort organized by Sigma Kappa’s Delta Nu Chapter and Longwood’s Mortar Board. Rachel Pata is the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Chair at Mortar Board, and Katie O’Brien is the vice president of philanthropic services for Sigma Kappa; both of them have been sisters in Sigma Kappa for two and a half years. Pata is a senior, and O’Brien is a junior.
Pata, O’Brien and their colleagues worked to plan this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s since the spring semester, registering teams to reserving space to spreading the word into the local community.
At the time of the interview, the organizers didn’t know the number of people who would attend. However, the 2016 Walk to End Alzheimer’s saw at least 100 attendees, according to O’Brien.
There is a color-coded system for each color of flower in the Promise Garden. Yellow stood for knowing someone with Alzheimer’s, blue is for the patients themselves and purple is held by people walking for a world without the disease. An orange flower meant someone was lost to Alzheimer’s.
This was the Delta Nu chapter’s only Alzheimer’s-related event this year, but there are other events on the horizon. On Tuesday, Oct. 31, the sisters will hold a spirit night at Moe’s from 5-7 p.m. Proceeds from that event will go toward the Sigma Kappa Foundation, which helps Sigma Kappa sisters around the country with scholarships.