Given all the “back to school” flyers, it seems like now is the best time to take advantage of sales and buy yourself some new sneakers because you’ll want to put your best foot forward for the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Oct. 6.

But more than the basis for a fun-filled day of shopping, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is a great way to increase awareness while raising much-needed funds for the local services that directly benefit those who have been diagnosed with the disease, their families and caregivers.

“The money raised through the Walk to End Alzheimer’s helps support the 37,000 individuals and caregivers affected by the disease here in Maine,” said Kristie Miner, director of the reflections program at Westgate Manor, Bangor, and the Walk chair. “The walk is the largest fundraising event specifically dedicated to supporting the programs of the Alzheimer’s Association, such as their 24-hour helpline, caregiver support groups, education and training programs, care management, public policy and advocacy, not to mention research aimed at finding a cause, cure, treatment, and prevention of the disease.”

There are 12 walks around the state scheduled for various dates in September and October, with a fundraising goal of $465,000. The walk in eastern Maine steps off at Hollywood Slots Raceway in Bangor and loops 3 miles around the west side of the city. Registration is at 8 a.m. in the building under the grandstand.

All who register will receive a brightly colored nylon flower on which to write a personal thought, a loved one’s name or something else meaningful to them. These flowers become part of a beautiful garden of hope and love.

“This is our second year highlighting a Promise Garden,” reports Miner. “When walkers arrive, they can choose a flower that symbolizes their relationship to Alzheimer’s. There are four colors to symbolize four unique situations.”

• Blue flowers mean, “I have Alzheimer’s.”

• Yellow flowers mean, “I am supporting or caring for someone with Alzheimer’s.”

• Purple flowers mean, “I have lost someone to Alzheimer’s.”

• Orange flowers mean, “I support the cause and a vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.”

This walk truly has something for everyone. Families and friends can bring their loved ones with Alzheimer’s and share the day as well.

“The Promise Walk takes place on the half-mile racetrack and is an option that allows people with Alzheimer’s disease to more easily participate,” said Miner. “Wheelchairs and walkers can maneuver on the track better than they can on the sidewalks around Fairmount Park and down Main Street.”

I’m sure by now you cannot wait to join the fun. You can register as an individual, or think of a catchy name and pull a team together, then set a personal or team goal and get pledges from friends and family.

Walkers that raise $100 or more will earn a T-shirt. All participants will bring home their pinwheel Promise Flower to display in their own home garden.

Some athletes claim that it is important to carb load before an event. Walkers will have just such an opportunity at 4:30-7 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Pizza Hut on Bangor Mall Boulevard. It is also a chance to share a little pre-walk camaraderie with other walkers and turn in donations. Aside from the obvious benefit of going to Pizza Hut, walkers will get theirT-shirts and can avoid the bustle of Saturday morning registration.

Same day registration is also available if you just can’t commit in advance.

For more information, call the Alzheimer’s Association at 1-800-272-3900, log on or call Miner at 942-7336.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. E-mail Higgins Taylor at For information on EAAA, call 942-2865, or toll-free (800) 432-7812, e-mail or log on