By Sarah Ruppenthal
In 1901, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist and neurologist, examined a patient with a mystifying case of progressive memory loss. He determined that she had a pathological form of dementia—what we now know to be Alzheimer’s disease.
Today, Alzheimer’s is classified as a degenerative disease of the brain and is ranked as the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. and the most common cause of dementia among older adults. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 million Americans are currently living with the disease—and the number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million by 2050. Additionally, the Alzheimer’s Association says more than 11 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
There are treatments that can temporarily delay the symptoms of the disease, but there is currently no cure. But that may change soon, as there is a vigorous effort underway to change the trajectory of the disease.
That’s why Joanne Foxxe of Keller Williams Realty Maui has participated in the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s for the past four years. Held in communities across the country, the event raises funds for the Alzheimer’s Association and its mission-related initiatives of care, support, and research. The nonprofit has chapters nationwide, including the Alzheimer’s Association Hawaii Chapter, which serves the entire state. The Alzheimer’s Association actively works to eliminate the disease through advancements in research and aims to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain healthy lifestyles. It also facilitates workshops, support groups and one-on-one consultations for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
On Maui, the 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer’s took place on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Keopuolani Park in Kahului. It was the first in-person walk since 2020 and it drew 41 teams and 244 participants. Thanks to their efforts, this year’s event raised more than $85,000, exceeding an initial fundraising goal of $80,000. All of the proceeds will stay local to support families and individuals impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. “We had a good turnout, and I am hoping for even more next year,” Foxxe said.
Realtors Association of Maui member Joanne Foxxe (center) and (from left) Heidi Henshel and Sandy Rogers want to see a world without Alzheimer’s disease. On Oct. 22, the trio took part in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, an annual event that raises awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research.
Photo courtesy Joanne Foxxe
For the fourth year in a row, Foxxe and her fellow “Maui CRS” teammates laced up their walking shoes to help the Alzheimer’s Association continue its important work. This year, the team raised nearly $3,000 for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. “During COVID, we did not have our big walk. This year was so special to have it in person,” she said. “We have many participants whose lives have been touched by this terrible disease.”
Foxxe was among the many walkers who carried a “Promise Flower” in one of four colors. Each color represented a reason for walking: a blue flower for those who have Alzheimer's or dementia, purple for those who have lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s or dementia, yellow for those who are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and orange for those who want to see a world without Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Recently, a new color was introduced: white. You will only find a single white flower at each walk, and it is an emblem of hope. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “It is raised as a symbol of a person we do not know yet… this one flower represents the first survivor of Alzheimer’s disease.”
For more information about the Alzheimer’s Association Hawaii Chapter, visit www.alz.org/hawaii or call (808) 591-2771. To learn more about local support groups, conferences, classes, or fundraisers, visit www.alz.org/hawaii/events. There’s also a 24/7 helpline that provides immediate guidance, emotional support and crisis intervention: 1-800-272-3900.
Do you know a Realtors Association of Maui member who should be recognized for their contributions to the community? If so, send your story idea to Sarah Ruppenthal at firstname.lastname@example.org.