4 Things I Realized After My First ALZ Walk
It's overwhelming, but not in a stressful way. You feel a surge of emotions that you can't explain. You feel slightly intimated as you hear large amounts of donations being turned in and fear that you didn't contribute enough. Every where you turn, there is a story to be told, a photo held, a memory, and over pour of love.
Yesterday was my first Alzheimer's Association Walk, but I promise it won't be my last. I don't know why it took me so long to do this, however I am glad that I did. My grandmother passed away from ALZ 4 years ago and it was a hard reality for me to accept. You can read a piece of her story here.
I signed up for the walk on my own, my conscious was telling me I had to do it this year. I'm so glad that I did and even happier that one of my best friends joined me in support. Together, we finished our first walk and realized from start to finish that there were things we didn't expect would happen.
Here are 4 things you don't realize when you take your first walk -
1. You are not alone. Physically and emotionally, everyone there is there for the same reason. Whatever you are feeling, whatever you are dealing with, everyone there can relate. We are there to support, to fight, and to praise all those who are affected by the disease. I never felt more connected by a community. There's no Mean Girls syndrome here, everyone is welcomed and everyone is loved.
2. You get overwhelmed with emotions. I felt happy, sad, scared, and hopeful all at once. From the time I stepped foot into the event to the time I finished, I went through a surge of emotions. I was proud of myself for taking this first step, to have participate in something I am deeply connected to and am very passionate about. I didn't do it for the 'gram, I didn't even care about taking photos because I wanted to be fully present.
I got teary eyed as people shared their personal stories and their favorite moments of the ones that had passed. There were a few speeches given from celebrities and their own stories as to why they're supporting ALZ, and as people listened in, there was a moment of peace. For those few hours, everyone was there for one reason and everything that was going on in the world was forgotten. It was the relief we all needed from the chaos of what has been going on lately. In that moment, I felt extremely hopeful and inspired.
3. You will need a backpack (or something similar). I walked in thinking that I didn't need to bring a purse or backpack as I wanted to walk hands free. I regretted it as soon as I got in, realizing that I was holding my phone, keys, and wallet while trying to hold my "promise flower", water bottle, snacks (that they provided), and t-shirt. Depending on the event, you will most likely leave with more than you came with so be prepared.
4. Everything else doesn't matter. This walk was for my grandmother, a celebration of who she was and honoring her fight against Alzheimer's. When you're walking, amongst a sea of purple, you feel as if you're in another world. Everything was so positive, uplifting, and inspiring.
As I walked next to my best friend, I looked over and saw an elderly man with two women. This man was currently fighting ALZ and had the support of his wife and daughter (I believe that was the relationship). I overhead their conversation and the two women were happily chatting away about the wife's upcoming 70th birthday. They held the man's hand the whole time, going at his exact pace, and never once complained about any of it. I immediately thought, couple goals / family goals. To be next to the one you love, to support the fight, to support them, to care for them without ever once complaining and just having so much hope, was refreshing. Every single person there had cared for or is currently caring for someone with ALZ and they all had smiles on their faces as they walked.
Basically, I felt shameful as I realized that I complain and stress over the dumbest things while these people who could or have the reason to bitch, don't. We always say there are more important things out there than our own problems and I finally understand that now. No more #firstworldproblems because there are real world problems that we need to fight for.
To donate or find out how you can help the fight against ALZ, click here.
I hope that you are now inspired to join your first walk or do another if you've already. I also hope to see you guys next year for ALZ's walk!