OTTUMWA — The Walk to End Alzheimer’s remains scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, August 29 at Bridge View Center.

Michelle Kelman, Alzheimer’s Association senior development specialist, said planning for the walk hasn’t stopped either. Those planning the walk meet virtually. Volunteer opportunities such as recruiting teams, getting walk materials out in the community and securing sponsorships have not stopped either.

“The concern has brought us closer together,” Kelman said. “We’re concerned about what happens to those we serve. If anything it has increased our desire to make a difference. We need to reach out to those who really need us.”

Kelman said there are many ways a person can fundraise even from a distance.

“There’s many many things you can do,” she said. “You can still do virtual fun fundraisers. You can do a social distance wide fundraiser. One person made pancakes and sold them and raised money that way. Most of the fundraising is done virtually at this time. People can still call and ask for donations, send emails or write letters. Some have done scavenger hunts and lip sync battles getting donations that way. Some have had virtual garage stations and people have texted their donations.”

“There’s some really great things out there,” Kelman added. “People are still getting creative. That passion is still there and that’s something that is inspiring.”

The walk, Kelman, said ultimately helps to support caregivers, toward research and those with the disease. She encourages caregivers to visit https://alz.org to get tips on how to care for their loved ones during the pandemic.

“It’s hard when you’re a 24/7 hour caregiver whether there’s a pandemic or not,” she said. “The person they’re caring for might ask ‘why do I need to wear a mask?’ It’s important to have a release and get on the phone with a support group and other people going through this. It helps reaching out. Human interaction is important to keep spirits up.”

If the pandemic continues throughout summer it could force changes. Kelman said the walk may be held virtually or the committee will find another way to hold the walk.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s website 71 people and 32 teams have signed up for Ottumwa’s walk. Kelman hopes more will sign up no matter how COVID-19 will look a few months from now.

“Right now we are encouraging people to sign up in whatever form it takes,” she said. “There’s a great opportunity to provide support. Every dollar counts — a dollar that has a caregiver get a break. Every dollar goes into the community and those impacted by the disease.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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