TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Thousands of people flooded the streets of Downtown Tampa Saturday morning.
Step by step, each person walked for people like Gene Anderson.
“Walking across the house, I go to get something, I stop in the middle and I can’t remember what I’m doing,” Anderson described. “I go back to where I start, then do the same thing the other way; it’s really a problem.”
Anderson is battling Alzheimer’s — a disease without a cure.
“Everybody needs to see what’s going on,” he said. “When you see a whole bunch of stuff with purple stuff on walking three miles, that’s a big thing.”
“Everybody wants to know, what are they doing?”, Anderson continued.
The 2023 Walk to End Alzheimer’s raised awareness for a disease that can cause a gradual decline in memory, thinking, behavior, and social skills.
These are significant changes doctors said affects a person’s ability to function.
“You don’t know when it’s going to get worse,” said Anderson’s wife, Teri Sarkozy. “You’re doing your normal things and you think your loved one is capable, and then suddenly they’re not.”
“You’re always in anticipation for when something is going to happen and it still catches you off guard,” she continued.
Each participant got a promise garden flower.
Each color represented a different connection to the disease.
Each person carrying a blue flower, like Anderson, is living with Alzheimer’s.
Purple was for anyone who has lost someone to the disease
The yellow flowers represent caregivers like Sarkozy.
“And then finally the reason we’re here today is to get that white flower,” Tami Mortellaro said.
Mortellaro lost her grandmother to Alzheimer’s and watched her mother’s health decline trying to care for her grandmother.
She said the purpose of the white flower is to get that cure.
“So that I hope that my grandchildren don’t have to lose their memories and battle this disease,” she explained.
If you’d like to donate, you can do here.