The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Students rally to support Alzheimer’s research and awareness

Alzheimers
Ivy Rose Ball
Alzheimer’s

On Nov. 1, a small group of students gathered on the Drill Field for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, a fundraiser that works to cure Alzheimer’s and to support those affected by it.
Upon arrival, each participant grabbed a flower spinner in the color that best represented their relationship to the cause. The colors were blue, for those living with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, purple, for those who have lost someone to the disease, yellow, for those who are currently supporting or caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s and orange, for others supporting the cause of curing Alzheimer’s and all other types of dementia.
Many in the group held purple flowers, exhibiting how deeply Alzheimer’s has touched and impacted the lives of those in this community. Kristen White, the program coordinator of Mississippi’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, shed light on just how prevalent Alzheimer’s is in Mississippi.
“In Mississippi, we go back and forth between one and two as the highest death rate in the country from Alzheimer’s disease. Hinds county, where I live, is actually the fifth highest county prevalent in the U.S,” White said.
Azia Gutierrez, Mississippi’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s manager, has been working with the organization for five months. Gutierrez said that events such as this have opened her eyes to how many people are affected by this disease.
“I did not realize how many people were impacted through this until I was looking at the crowd and seeing all these other people who understand, they have gone through it too,” Gutierrez said. “And there’s so much empathy and so much kindness and so much community around this.”
Gutierrez kicked off the event around 2:30 p.m. on the cloudless Wednesday afternoon. The flower spinners held by participants danced in the wind as she spoke.
The walk, which is intentionally short to accommodate anyone who wants to participate, was around the perimeter of the Drill Field, starting and ending in front of Lee Hall. During the walk, participants discussed their experiences with Alzheimer’s. Nearly everyone participating had some sort of personal loss to the disease.
Joseph Cox, a sophomore majoring in kinesiology at Mississippi State University, spoke about his experiences with Alzheimer’s and what inspired him to walk.
“When I was younger, I lost both of my grandfathers to Alzheimer’s, and so I’ve seen how the disease affects people, and then I see how the disease affects the family members of those who have it,” Cox said.
Rob Butler, coordinator for the MSU Center for Student Activities, said that his personal relationship with Alzheimer’s is part of what made him want to support and work with the organization.
“Having had personal loved ones affected by the disease, I just really wanted to see it go well, and so we’ve done our best to make all things happen here,” Butler said.
Gutierrez mentioned that while the turnout at campus events may not be as large as other walks they do throughout the state, she still finds them to be meaningful and impactful.
“The campus events that we do are really special,” Gutierrez said. “The smaller ones where we get to be involved with students and really get the time to get to speak with everybody are really, really cool.”
Gutierrez expressed her excitement for the advancements in Alzheimer’s research, thanks in part to the efforts by Walk to End Alzheimer’s. So far this year, just between Tupelo, Starkville and Oxford, Walk to End Alzheimer’s has raised over $70,000 for the cause. According to Gutierrez, the Alzheimer’s research that the walk supports has begun to reach new milestones. She said that some of the first drugs that address the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s have been FDA approved.
Although the event does not require any sort of registration fee to participate, Gutierrez said that there are many ways people can support the cause even without any sort of financial donation.
“For the whole state of Mississippi, we only have five people who work with us that serve the whole state, so we are always looking for volunteers. We cannot make these events happen without volunteers that come out to help with setup. We also, all year long, offer free education throughout the state. So having people in each community that are willing to learn on education programs and present to companies are a huge help,” Guitierrez said.
Donations for Walk to End Alzheimer’s can be made on their website.

About the Contributor
Ivy Rose Ball, Photography Editor
Ivy Rose Ball is a junior communication major from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. She currently serves as the Photography Editor. [email protected]
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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Students rally to support Alzheimer’s research and awareness