DOVER — More than five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, including more than 2,500 in Tuscarawas County.

On Sept. 16, more than 240 supporters of the Alzheimer’s Association’s mission – caregivers, professionals, family members that had lost someone to the disease and even a few individuals currently living with a dementia diagnosis — gathered at Dover Middle School for the Tuscarawas County Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

The event raised more than $32,000 with the "Wacky Walkers" team being the most successful fundraising team for the second consecutive year.

"Walk to End Alzheimer's is a key signature event for our local chapter," notes Cheryl Kanetsky, LSW, MBA, executive director of the Alzheimer's Association Greater East Ohio Chapter. "It raises critical funds that allow all our programs and services to be delivered to individuals and families free of charge."

Following a season of team building, raising funds and awareness, supporters met starting at 8:30 a.m. to enjoy light snacks, visit sponsor exhibits and learn about Alzheimer’s advocacy, clinical studies enrollment and support services and additional education opportunities through the Alzheimer’s Association.

During the ceremony held before the two-mile walk, participants were recognized for fundraising accomplishments, each holding a pinwheel flower signifying their connection to the disease.

• Purple flowers indicated you had lost someone to Alzheimer’s, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and the only one of the top 10 leading causes of death with no method of prevention, treatment or slowing down the disease’s progression.

• Yellow flowers indicated you were a caregiver; for each individual living with the disease, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates there are two-to-three people providing unpaid care as caregivers.

• Orange flowers indicated you are a supporter of the cause, recognizing that even without a personal connection now, the disease affects more people every day; every 66 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops the disease.

• Blue flowers indicated you were currently living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. The rarest flower present, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates 210,000 Ohioans are living with the disease – a number that is on the rise, expected to hit 250,000 by 2025

Through the funds raised at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, the Alzheimer’s Association Greater East Ohio Area Chapter is able to make care and support programs available locally to individuals and their families, including a 24-hour helpline, 800-272-3900, family care consultations to connect whole families with resources when navigating a dementia diagnosis, caregiver support groups that meet monthly, and community and family education – such as the Savvy Caregiver training series coming to Carrollton this October.

Savvy Caregiver is a six-week, evidence-based program meeting weekly to teach caregivers how to manage a disease that does not improve, understand the physical and emotional impact, develop important self-care skills and help a person with memory loss manage daily tasks. The Association is currently taking registrations for the series, set to begin Tuesday, Oct.10 at Aultman Carrollton, by calling the 24-hour helpline, 800-272-3900.

The Dover caregiver support group meets on the third Tuesday of each month at Union Hospital, Reeves South conference room, at 7 p.m. The Minerva caregiver support group meets on the first Thursday of each month, at the YMCA, at 6:30 p.m.

For more information on local services and events or to make a donation in support of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, visit: alz.org/akroncantonyoungstown.