KNOXVILLE (WATE) — People across East Tennessee are celebrating “The Longest Day” of the year on Wednesday by wearing a lot of purple and doing things they love. It’s a time to honor a caregiver, someone living with Alzheimer’s, or someone lost to the devastating disease.
For those dealing with this illness, every day can seem like the longest day of the year. Denise Walton knows that reality all too well.
“It never stops, the taking care of a patient with Alzheimer’s or dementia never stops,” said Walton.
Walton has seen her 74-year-old mother Sarah struggle with memory loss over the past five years.
“I know that she’s scared and that she knows something is wrong,” said Walton.
Currently there’s still no way to cure or slow down the progression of this disease.
Walton adds, “You can’t fight it. There’s nothing you can do, but to love. And right now I think this world needs a lot of love.”
To raise awareness, her family came together on The Longest Day to run and walk through Fountain City Park in Knoxville. They wanted to honor their mother and grandmother who is fighting Alzheimer’s.
“It is my passion,” said Walton.
Her passion to help those battling this disease is something that Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett recognizes.
“I hereby proclaim June 21 as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month in Knox County,” said Burchett in a special ceremony at the park. “The caregivers give so much. It’s incredible the sacrifices that they make.”
The hope is to start a conversation about the need for research and funding.
Walton adds, “To have a cure, to even have anything that will slow it down a little bit is what we need. People don’t understand until they’ve walked in the shoes. They just don’t understand how hard it is.”
All the money raised through The Longest Day goes to help fund the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.